How Resistance Proves the Existence of God

Consider James Rhodes, whose April 26, 2013 article in the Guardian UK I stole for last week’s post:

I didn’t play the piano for 10 years. A decade of slow death by greed working in the City, chasing something that never existed in the first place (security, self-worth, Don Draper albeit a few inches shorter and a few women fewer). And only when the pain of not doing it got greater than the imagined pain of doing it did I somehow find the balls to pursue what I really wanted and had been obsessed by since the age of seven—to be a concert pianist.

Concert pianist James Rhodes, back by popular demand

That’s Resistance. That’s the definition of Resistance. Mr. Rhodes at that point was mired in a shadow career. He was operating as an amateur. Suddenly some force seizes him. He turns pro:

Admittedly I went a little extreme—no income for five years, six hours a day of intense practice, monthly four-day long lessons with a brilliant and psychopathic teacher in Verona, a hunger for something that was so necessary it cost me my marriage, nine months in a mental hospital, most of my dignity and about 35lbs in weight. And the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is not perhaps the Disney ending I’d envisaged as I lay in bed aged 10 listening to Horowitz devouring Rachmaninov at Carnegie Hall.

I love Mr. Rhodes’ testament not just because he’s my kinda guy, because he’s nuts, because he laid it all on the line, etc. etc. But because his story—and yours and mine—proves there is a God.

First given:

Resistance is a universal phenomenon of the human psyche. Everyone experiences it. (Trust me, I know from the thousands of e-mails I’ve gotten on the subject.)

Second given:

Resistance’s sole object is to prevent you and me from becoming concert pianists, writing bestselling novels, founding the follow-on to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

In other words, Resistance’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world.

Ergo:

Resistance is the devil.

Ergo:

If there is a devil, there must be a God.

Was all that work at the piano worth it, Mr. Rhodes?

And yet. The indescribable reward of taking a bunch of ink on paper from the shelf at Chappell of Bond Street. Tubing it home, setting the score, pencil, coffee and ashtray on the piano and emerging a few days, weeks or months later able to perform something that some mad, genius, lunatic of a composer 300 years ago heard in his head while out of his mind with grief or love or syphilis. A piece of music that will always baffle the greatest minds in the world, that simply cannot be made sense of, that is still living and floating in the ether and will do so for yet more centuries to come. That is extraordinary. And I did that. I do it, to my continual astonishment, all the time.

James Rhodes beat the devil. There’s no other way to express it. Something kept him going, just like something kept Rachmaninov going, and something keeps you and me going.

The Muse? The superconscious?

What name would you put to it?

My life involves endless hours of repetitive and frustrating practising, lonely hotel rooms, dodgy pianos, aggressively bitchy reviews, isolation, confusing airline reward programmes, physiotherapy, stretches of nervous boredom (counting ceiling tiles backstage as the house slowly fills up) punctuated by short moments of extreme pressure (playing 120,000 notes from memory in the right order with the right fingers, the right sound, the right pedalling while chatting about the composers and pieces and knowing there are critics, recording devices, my mum, the ghosts of the past, all there watching), and perhaps most crushingly, the realisation that I will never, ever give the perfect recital. It can only ever, with luck, hard work and a hefty dose of self-forgiveness, be “good enough.”

That’s a pro. That’s a man who’s in the trenches, fighting the war every day. That is a man, an artist, whose inner and outer worlds are suffused with grace and beauty and honor and courage—and who by his music and his personal example pass those qualities on to you and me.

So please, critics, spare me the “God is dead” manifesto. Not even the guys who thought that shit up believed it. They were battling Resistance every day, and they were receiving inspiration from the goddess.

I refuse to believe that we humans are alone and bereft in a meaningless cosmos. If we were, there would be no such phenomenon as Resistance. What possible purpose could Resistance serve in a universe devoid of meaning?

Hell exists, yes. But heaven does too.

James Rhodes is my hero because he found himself between the two and he chose the loftier and the nobler.

I salute you, sir. May we all find the grace and strength to follow your example.

THE WAR OF ART

Read this one first.
It identifies the enemy—what I call Resistance with a capital “R,” i.e. fear, self-doubt, procrastination, perfectionism, all the forms of self-sabotage—that stop us from doing our work and realizing our dreams.
Start here.
Everything else proceeds from this.

The-War-of-Art

DO THE WORK

Steve shows you the predictable Resistance points that every writer hits in a work-in-progress and then shows you how to deal with each one of these sticking points. This book shows you how to keep going with your work.

do the work book banner 1

THE AUTHENTIC SWING

A short book about the writing of a first novel: for Steve, The Legend of Bagger Vance. Having failed with three earlier attempts at novels, here's how Steve finally succeeded.

The-Authentic-Swing

NOBODY WANTS TO READ YOUR SH*T

Steve shares his "lessons learned" from the trenches of the five different writing careers—advertising, screenwriting, fiction, nonfiction, and self-help. This is tradecraft. An MFA in Writing in 197 pages.

noboybookcover

TURNING PRO

Amateurs have amateur habits. Pros have pro habits. When we turn pro, we give up the comfortable life but we find our power. Steve answers the question, "How do we overcome Resistance?"

Turning-Pro

71 Comments

  1. Basilis on February 12, 2014 at 4:27 am

    A manifest!

  2. Mary Doyle on February 12, 2014 at 4:40 am

    Amen Steve. This was the perfect follow-up to last week’s post – thank you.

  3. Pamela Hodges on February 12, 2014 at 6:07 am

    Yes, Resistance is the devil.

  4. Elizabeth Young on February 12, 2014 at 6:26 am

    That was an awesome piece that move my insides. Thank you.

  5. Philippa Rees on February 12, 2014 at 6:29 am

    Last week’s post occupied me for most of an afternoon listening to Mr Rhodes’s left hand- phenomenal- and this derived philosophy today is apt, and aptly timed.

    What might be called good thinking! So satisfying.

  6. Kabamba on February 12, 2014 at 6:35 am

    Your work is beautiful. Thank you very much for your work.

  7. jean566 on February 12, 2014 at 6:42 am

    I agree Resistance is a terrible thing. But he seems to have gone over the cliff on the other end. Isn’t there any way to do this without losing a marriage, going into a mental hospital, losing weight?!? A bit extreme, but I do get the point.

  8. Donn McAfee on February 12, 2014 at 6:42 am

    When the muse, the goddess, the creator flows through your hands it is impossible, IMPOSSIBLE, to deny. As a solo chef on a yacht for the rich & famous I had to come up with new menu offerings daily. Countless times after the applause I would stand in the galley, baffled and bewildered as to how I (we) pulled it off. Now, as a writer, the same energy flows through my fingers, madly telling a story I didn’t know existed. And the devil still sits over there, with that bottle of Mount Gay rum, smiling. Waiting. “Good job, lad. Now come on. Enough of that. Time to Party!”

  9. Barry on February 12, 2014 at 6:48 am

    Dec. 7th, 2013, at 46, I turned Pro. Before then (no need, that is The Resistance). Since then, God. Source. Consciousness. sent me Do The Work, which led to The War of Art (interestingly, Bagger Vance is one of my top 3 favorite movies of all time), which led to a book called The Tools.

    Since Dec 7th I’ve been doing the work everyday, no matter what. When The Resistance shows up, I say, “I see you, motherfucker. Bring it on!” while I keep doing the work.

    I salute you, Steven Pressfield. And I now salute James Rhodes, too. This website and blog gives me the feeling that I’m now facing The Resistance shoulder to shoulder with others up in arms against this relentless aggressor.

  10. Ben on February 12, 2014 at 6:52 am

    This is where you tend to lose us atheists, Stephen. There is no God. But the muse, as a metaphor at least, I can believe in. And you’re right about absolutely EVERYTHING else, so not bad going! Keep up the great work.

    • Mandi Lynn on February 12, 2014 at 10:50 am

      Hee hee hee, put the fox in among the hens this morning I see Steven.
      I enjoyed your post and I share your conclusion, but I also see the point of the “culture club”. I suppose I take it a bit from a more Toltec sort of stance. The siren call of Resistance is for me a battle against character flaws in need of attention, as well as the many layers of culture that were infused into my mind and can act as a strangle hold on my creative action. Taking a question everything response has helped me immensely…but yes the core for me was being introduced to my muse and feeling her daily, touching the ether and being amazed and what gets channeled through me. I honour that as my Goddess/ my muse, my higher power. What ever. I know that just left to my own devices…my ego will choke the brilliance right out of me. When I open up to be a servant…the good stuff starts flowing…and I find that quite divine.

  11. Martin Raim on February 12, 2014 at 6:56 am

    There are impassioned being like James Rhodes who (seem to) go it alone, persevere heroically and, in the teeth of fierce resistance, accomplish what they committed to accomplishing. For the rest of us (that means me) I get by with a little help from my friends. I’m a retired techie-turned-writer and stay focused on my writing not through sheer will-power alone (a la James) but from the direct encouragement of devoted friends who keep me on track. I return the favor by energetically supporting fellow-writers who have the courage to declare point-blank what it is they are setting out to accomplish. It’s a two-way street!

  12. Amy Duncan on February 12, 2014 at 7:02 am

    The problem with the word “God” is that there are so many misconceptions out there about what it actually means. Lots of folks are still caught up in the “oversized man in the sky” belief. But guess what, a woman named Mary Baker Eddy not only discovered what God really is, but she also nailed Resistance. And she did it in the 19th century! She even used the word “resistance,” along with animal magnetism, error, evil, devil, etc., to define exactly what you’re talking about, Steven. It’s amazing to think that she did this and hardly anyone noticed. I’m extremely grateful for “The War of Art” and all your other books for bringing this to light today…it’s more needed than many people realize!

  13. Judy Baker on February 12, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Wow, powerful article. Thanks.

  14. Jeffrey Taylor on February 12, 2014 at 7:19 am

    The Hebrews understood Satan as Adversary. I’m not sure I believe in a guy in red PJs with a pitchfork, but a force that opposes our individual and collective call from the sacred (AKA God). Yeah, I’m sure that exists. I’ve experienced it.

    • Consuelo on February 12, 2014 at 8:39 am

      Satan is a prideful, fallen angel. That old pic of him doesn’t represent the ruler of this earth. Jesus defeated him on the cross. But he rules the earth. We choose to believe or not. God will honor our choice.

  15. Jenny Hester on February 12, 2014 at 7:20 am

    Bravo!! Bravo Steven!!!!

  16. KimBoo York on February 12, 2014 at 7:31 am

    Steven, I greatly admire your work and have found a lot of value in your blog, but please leave the proselytizing out of it. I’m an atheist and I find this kind of post very alienating — was that really your goal, here? I hope not.

    • Real Talk on February 12, 2014 at 8:28 am

      You atheists are idiots.

      • LaVonne Ellis on February 12, 2014 at 8:23 pm

        People who call people idiots are idiots–oops.

    • Melissa M on February 12, 2014 at 1:44 pm

      His blog, his prerogative to say what he thinks and believes and feels. Surely you respect him for that even if you don’t agree with his religious stance?

  17. Grandmastersethy on February 12, 2014 at 7:47 am

    Hey Steven I love your writing, but this post didn’t really do it for me. I think the meaning of your post is more about the surge of emotional strength within you rather than an actual argument, but I’ll respond anyway:

    It starts with a faulty premise that things that prevent good from entering the world are the devil. A lot of things and people prevent good, that doesn’t actually make it the devil.

    Also, in terms of the purpose of resistance, we’ve evolved to not move unnecessarily and burn too many calories and starve to death. The key is adapting to our new world where finding food isn’t the problem, but overcoming a built-in “laziness” that stops us from doing other things.

    Anyway, I’m not trying to sound like a killjoy, I love The Gates of Fire, The War of Art, and your blog.

    • Amy Duncan on February 12, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      Sounds like you’re thinking of the devil as an entity, rather than what it is, which is just plain old evil. Take away the “d” and whaddaya have? Evil.

      • Grandmastersethy on February 12, 2014 at 4:26 pm

        So the existence of evil proves the existence of God?

  18. Dale Lucas on February 12, 2014 at 7:49 am

    Outstanding, Steve! Many thanks.

  19. Tom Worth on February 12, 2014 at 7:55 am

    You can’t get over this guy, and we are all the better for it. Thanks for bringing his story, and your take on it, to this site!

  20. Erik Dolson on February 12, 2014 at 8:05 am

    I want to disagree with the conclusion about God. But to do so honestly, I have to answer Steve’s core question:
    What possible purpose could Resistance serve in a universe devoid of meaning?
    Each of us has experienced Resistance. It’s a fact. Steve’e belief that it’s the devil leads to his conclusion that there’s God. We can deny his belief that it’s the devil, but need an alternative that steps away from the tautology in “devoid of meaning.”
    What purpose does Resistance serve in human experience? It must have or had one, that contributed to survival of the individual or tribe. If it’s written into our human genome, what did it do for us, why is it there?

  21. Pheralyn on February 12, 2014 at 8:13 am

    James Rhodes is amazing and so are you, Steven. Indeed,we are all amazing human beings, if only we could believe we are. Kudos to the brave souls out there fighting Resistance on a daily basis, in order to manifest their true talents. Thanks for these past two posts, detailing the inspiring story about James Rhodes.

  22. Erik Dolson on February 12, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Grandmastersethy has a plausible explanation why Resistance is there.

    Another might lie in the structure of our brain, which evolved to detect, and create, patterns. To impute, constantly, cause and effect. Which might explain the explanations, Devil and God.

    The brain also evolved to keep us functioning as a member of the tribe. The cost of the creative (divorce, therapy, poverty) may be explanation enough for Resistance. Creativity is necessary for tribal success, but so is Resistance, otherwise all us Creatives would wander off and fail to feed our offspring.

    See Daniel Kahneman’s “Thinking, Fast and Slow.”

  23. Gretchen on February 12, 2014 at 9:31 am

    This is where you lose me, Steve.

  24. Patrick on February 12, 2014 at 9:44 am

    Steve, I came to the same conclusion recently, you said it better.

  25. Jack on February 12, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Great post, Steven. I see a few butt hurt atheists whining on here. To them, I would say read this book: http://www.amazon.com/The-Experience-God-Being-Consciousness/dp/0300166842

    You might be stewing about the man in the sky demiurge, rather than the all encompassing being that upholds our very existence and that the vast majority of religions aspire to understand. Belief in a materialist universe is foolish and pathetic.

    • Amy Duncan on February 12, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      I agree, Jack. When some people hear the word “God,” they immediately jump to the old theology conclusion, whereas even today’s physicists are starting to admit that all is Consciousness.

    • Reg on February 15, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      I agree with you on this Jack.My same conclusion.

  26. Angela on February 12, 2014 at 10:33 am

    As writer and creator, I know how to objectify. I understand the seeming otherness of characters, I know how to use devices, and I have many tools up my sleeve.

    It turns out I’m both a classical violinist who rebooted 10,000 hours of deliberate practice this year (had stopped playing after several decades, and had to begin again with a new, radical approach that makes some teachers wince.)

    I’m also a theologian who understands myth and archetype, and can philosophize religion vs. science all day long. Yeah, I believe in God too – but not the one I saw on the Sistine Chapel. I’ve been an atheist as well – so you see dear Steven I relate to your post all the way around.

    For years I began my day writing to “Mr. Fucker,” whom some call the devil. I know that devil is also my shadow, the amateur, Resistance. Thinking of Resistance as a being or object helps me deal with it appropriately! As you’ve covered how to do that, I won’t repeat. Off writing.

    Thanks for another good one.

  27. Linda Roach on February 12, 2014 at 10:40 am

    Brilliantly expressed Steven and I couldn’t agree more! We are not here to play it safe. God wants us to go for “it” – whatever that IT is for us. He’s there to guide, help us along the journey, but we must take the first step – every day! They key is to DECIDE to enjoy the journey no matter how shitty it can seem at the time – it will always serve in the end. The beautiful thing is we discover how much we are really loved and supported when we take leaps of faith – that’s where the magic of life lives.

  28. Marcy McKay on February 12, 2014 at 10:57 am

    Hell, yeah, Steven. Preach it. 🙂

  29. David Levin on February 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

    I’m sorry, but I could disagree more.

    I totally understand your observation about the nature of the resistance – that it’s sole purpose is to keep us from following our higher intentions. And I do battle with the same thing everyday. But it’s an awfully big leap to say that must be the devil, therefore there must be a God. And I just don’t think it follows.

    The purpose of the resistance is easy to see in the context of human evolution.

    Our systems developed in a world of scarcity and danger. Being open and present and creative and all that is relatively new, and it’s scary to our lower selves. So the resistance is simply our more primitive evolutionary aspects doing what they’re designed to do – keep us safe.

    As I see it, there’s nothing mystical about it. It’s not an epic drama between good and evil. It’s just that we’re in a transition period between the world we’re wired for and the one we’ve created. So we feel the upper pull and the lower resistance at the same time.

    I know it feels bigger than that. I’ve struggled with the same questions for years. But seeing it this way has actually been very liberating and motivating for me. So I’m sticking with it. 🙂

    • David Levin on February 12, 2014 at 11:25 am

      oops. I meant “couldn’t” disagree more. sorry.

      • Ben on February 12, 2014 at 11:53 am

        ^Typical materialist imbecile.

  30. Elizabeth Tomlinson on February 12, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Yesterday I was telling a friend about your work, and said that you don’t actually ever *say* that Resistance is evil, but it clearly is exactly that.

    Thank you so much for finally coming out with it! I really appreciate your courage to tell the obvious truth!

    As St. Augustine says, “Evil is a darkened image of omnipotence.” That’s Resistance.

  31. ilona fried on February 12, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Somehow I read this as a bit more tongue in cheek than the atheists who are disagreeing. What I got from this post is that we can’t underestimate the power of resistance and we have to be on guard all the time; even my Zen teacher, who is not a “God” person, considers resistance a life-sucking force. Whether you call it evil or use another term with less theological resonance, it doesn’t change the fact that it doesn’t go away.

  32. Currer Bell on February 12, 2014 at 12:47 pm

    I find this story a bit depressing. I really do. To suffer like that, I am not sure I am getting the lesson or is that resistance in me? Not sure.

    I don’t mind the God stuff, it is what Steve believes and how he expresses himself.

  33. Thibaud on February 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    A god m

  34. Thibaud on February 12, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    A god may exist and do exactly what you explain. Exactly I mean no more no less.

    in french:

  35. Chris on February 12, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    “Resistance’s sole object is to prevent.”

    Goddamned right.

  36. Erik Dolson on February 12, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    It might even be that Resistance waxes and wanes — everything else in our universe does — depending on needs of the tribe. Or just periodically. There seem to be times in history where creativity was especially pronounced: Italy in the 15th and 16 century, England and America in the 17th and 18th.

    Perhaps these were times of synergy, or perhaps these were times when the “threshold,” where Resistance is overcome, was lowered.

    There might be advantages to having the Resistance threshold higher at times: When the tribe would want fewer individuals forsaking tribal or individual survival necessities in favor of following the muse, whether to create cave art or catapults.

    At other times, the Resistance threshold might drop and we’d see a burst of new energy finding new outlets and expression and understanding.

    But individuals would always have to struggle against Resistance, because the fact that it’s a battle that many don’t win probably improves the output.

    (Sorry for the multiple posts. The Devil made me do it.)

  37. Erik on February 12, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    It is what it is and it rains equally upon the believers, non-believers, just and unjust alike.
    It’s all about freedom. It’s all about how bad you want it. It’s all about what drives you and what price you are willing to pay for glory.

  38. Anne Marie on February 12, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Wonderful post! Love it and your books and your guidance through it all. God bless you!

  39. N Jade on February 12, 2014 at 4:59 pm

    I had to read this post twice. What made me read it twice is my resistance to believe in something that I cannot understand. But, today, I think it made some sense. Is God a consciousness ? Is God within or without? If resistance is from within, then the thing that fights it is also from within.
    Great post Steve. You always inspire me.

  40. Nan Roberts on February 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm

    Thank you Steven. I went back and read last week’s, too. Resistance, resistance, I’ve been battling it for ages and today was bad. I’m encouraged. I can do this. Geez, I have to remember that I did four eight-week sessions of Boot Camp last year, and I’m 62. If I can do that, I can write. I can get out of here, I can move across the country.
    And for anybody else reading this who commented above, I am a Christian, I know there is an enemy (that’s what “satan” means) and I know there is a God, and he won already. I win, too.

  41. Eve on February 12, 2014 at 8:47 pm

    Steven you move me… And I have angels around me which I have placed to help me with resistance. Because I will not write without an outside person that I’m accountable to.. I hired one. She teaches writing and I have to turn in homework every week.. so I must write. Ways to work my way around resistance.. I do whatever it takes.

  42. Fred on February 12, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    As Steven says (brilliantly) in The War of Art, Resistance is always lying and is always full of shit. His personification of the term is also the classic definition of the devil, which is now used in a secular way as well as a religious one.

    This is also what I understand as Illusion. And Illusion, by definition, doesn’t exist.

    To align oneself with Illusion, or the devil, or Resistance – whatever you call it – is to believe wholeheartedly in something that isn’t there.

    We just think it is.

    That’s why this is such an insidious War, one whose battles must be fought daily. Resistance only has the power we invest in it, but we are often more powerful than we realize.

    However, I disagree that Resistance proves the existence of God. As a believer, I know that God has no opposite, and therefore cannot be proved by the existence of one. (Certainly not by an illusion that doesn’t exist in the first place.)

    To even attempt to prove God’s existence is to demonstrate lack of faith, which is the only way by which God can be truly experienced or appreciated.

    As Bob Dylan once sang, “You either faith or you got unbelief, and there ain’t no neutral ground.”

    I personally believe that the spirit of God has inspired human beings since day one. (I also don’t believe that Resistance has ever helped a single human to do anything). But I would never tell a non-believer what to believe. That would deny their freedom and be a manifestation of my own Resistance.

    The best I can do is look my own shifty, lying devil in the eye and say, “You’re so full of shit, you don’t even exist” and get back to my writing.

  43. John Anderson on February 13, 2014 at 4:39 am

    Wonderful post Steven. Thank you!

  44. Helen Verte on February 13, 2014 at 5:47 am

    Thank you. I needed that. I’m fairly new to your website, but already look forward to Writing Wednesdays.

  45. Joe on February 13, 2014 at 6:28 am

    First given: Resistance is a universal phenomenon of the human psyche. Everyone experiences it. (Trust me, I know from the thousands of e-mails I’ve gotten on the subject.)

    —-> ‘thousands’ of emails don’t make something ‘universal’. It might be quite common, but you can’t rely on this as a ‘given’ simply from thousands of instances of it happening. There are also thousands of instances of it not happening.

    Second given: Resistance’s sole object is to prevent you and me from becoming concert pianists, writing bestselling novels, founding the follow-on to Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity.

    In other words, Resistance’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world.

    —-> why does resistance have to have a ‘purpose’? It can have an effect, but there’s no intention here. It’s not a conscious entity.

    Ergo: Resistance is the devil.

    —-> this is such a huge leap I don’t even know where to start. Perhaps I should just point out the simple logical error. Even if we accept the premise that “Resistance’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world” and we add the assumed premise “The Devil’s purpose is to prevent good from entering the world” it’s a logical error to equate Resistance and the devil. For example:
    “My cup of tea will quench my thirst”
    +
    “My glass of wine will quench my thirst”
    does not equal
    “My cup of tea is my glass of wine”

    Ergo: If there is a devil, there must be a God.

    —->another huge mistake. Even if we accept that all your bonkers logic has brought us to the conclusion that there is a devil, that tells us nothing about the existence or otherwise of a god. This assumes so much about the nature of the particular devil you’re arguing for, including all the storybook properties about that devil entrenched in western culture. Unfortunately, this is the same argument: If there are rainbows, there must be leprechauns hiding gold at the rainbow’s end.

    “I refuse to believe that we humans are alone and bereft in a meaningless cosmos. If we were, there would be no such phenomenon as Resistance. What possible purpose could Resistance serve in a universe devoid of meaning?”

    —-> why does resistance have to serve a purpose? And if it does have to serve a purpose, or at least have a function (which it absolutely does not) evolutionary biology can easily furnish us with one. Fear of failure is a healthy survival instinct when it comes to existing in a world that contains dangerous things like cliffs, fire and predators.

    Writing or creating or performing anything requires huge and wonderful creative risks. It can feel like jumping off a cliff. The survival instinct might kick in and stop you from taking on that task at first. But if you can overcome it and act without fear (of failure, of judgement, of a mythical ‘god’ or ‘devil’ figure) then you can create amazing things.

    Own that creative purpose. There is no devil stopping you. It’s YOU. And you can overcome that resistance in this marvellous, beautiful, meaningless and godless universe. The human brain, human creativity, human good and evil… these are the things that we grapple with every day.

    This is fantastic blog and all the encouragement to creativity and beauty is special. Please keep doing what you’re doing. I only wanted to address the logical mis-steps because I consider creativity to our, human responsibility. No devil is to stop you creating and no god is going to take the credit. Own it.

    • gary on February 13, 2014 at 9:43 am

      LOve this

      Own it!!

      Right on brother!!

    • Grandmastersethy on February 13, 2014 at 12:00 pm

      “There is no devil stopping you. It’s YOU.”

      Well done.

  46. bettylion on February 13, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    I enjoy Pressfield’s writings a lot, and they sure help with motivation, but this post lost me a little bit because I think it makes a big leap. I, too, would love to believe that we are not brief, pointless specks of dust in the cosmos, but my logic fails to make the leap of faith. I see Resistance more as a normal human trait, of laziness specifically. We are biologically programmed to seek the path of least resistance, to choose pleasure over pain. Delayed gratification is something that all humans struggle with. It is much easier to choose an hour of ‘pleasure’ relaxing in front of the TV than it is to battle your self-doubt in front of a blank piece of paper.

  47. matthew on February 14, 2014 at 6:27 am

    The sun does not revolve around the earth and the world is not flat. We know so much more now. C’mon Steve.

  48. Erik on February 14, 2014 at 7:13 am

    Mr. Pressfield realizes that there is a power and will greater than himself by identifying a force that operates contrary to his own will. “Resistance” is not the devil; nor is it proof for the existence of God. Resistance is proof that God is actively involved with our development.

  49. Erik on February 14, 2014 at 7:51 am

    There is a “Catch 22” law in our Universe:
    ONE CANNOT KNOW GOD, UNLESS THEY SEEK GOD.

    When you do the math you will find that you did not do the math.

    Guess who did the math?

  50. Erik on February 14, 2014 at 8:33 am

    Resistance is our own will.

    God’s will is that we know God and become as God.

    So who is God?
    All I can tell you is that the “Fat Lady” sings a love song 🙂

  51. Andrew Halfacre on February 14, 2014 at 3:58 pm

    Great post Steve. Thank you.

    Could I put in a good word for CS Lewis great satire The Screwtape Letters. It features advice from a senior devil to his junior on how to ruin a human. We get to see resistance plotted from the other side. It’s wry and funny.

    Well worth reading again in the light of this post.

    PS – for my theist brothers and sisters who have leapt on here. Please remember arguments are not won with insults. Play the ball not the man.

  52. Uncle Sperie's Nephew on February 16, 2014 at 3:16 pm

    I believe Steven Pressfield must have overcome resistance to make this post, and for that great courage, I have to honor him. As to his conclusion, and I quote,

    “So please, critics, spare me the ‘God is dead’ manifesto. Not even the guys who thought that shit up believed it.

    They were battling Resistance every day, and they were receiving inspiration from the goddess.”

    Perhaps even dark inspiration? In their analysis of Polanski’s film of Ira Levin’s “Rosemary’s Baby” at the site VigilantCitizen, the anonymous author or authors wrote:

    # # #

    That being said, it would be overly simplistic to blame “Satan” for all that happened. In fact, the puppeteers would love to see a scared and confused population blaming everything on a non-human scapegoat, releasing actual men and women from the accountability of their actions. Even LaVey’s Church of Satan is a Hollywood-style, theatrical comedy compared to the real actors on the world stage. Secret cabals, evolving at the higher echelons of society, are the true puppeteers here and they avoid media attention. By distorting and corrupting ancient esoteric teachings to fit their needs, the rulers have given themselves a loose moral code to justify their actions. They have usurped “true science”, which was inspired by the laws of nature, to create a toxic by-product serving power and greed. The masses, deemed “profane” and unworthy of the Truth, are bewildered spectators at a sick puppet show, not even realizing they are watching puppets. For this reason, it is important to lift the curtain and see what is happening behind the scenes. Once we truly see the sick puppeteers pulling the strings, we will, hopefully, snap out of our hypnotic state and walk out of the show.

    # # #

    Fred Reed has written brilliantly on evolution and its failings, see most recently here:

    http://www.fredoneverything.net/LastDarwin.shtml

    A staple of evolutionary evasion is time, lots of it. This is particularly applied to the putative formation of the OC (Original Critter). One intones “billions and billions and billions of years,” the implication being that with so very, very, very much time, so many billions of gallons of sea water, surely an OC would have to form. Why, it could hardly help it.

    Not necessarily. Probabilities can be more daunting than one might expect. Things that seem intuitively likely sometimes just flat are not. To illustrate the point:

    “We’ve all heard Sir James Jeans’ assertion that a monkey, pecking randomly on a typewriter, would eventually produce all the books in the British Museum. This may sound reasonable, even obvious, at first glance. But would the monkey in fact ever get even one book?

    “No. Not in any practical sense.

    “Consider a thickish book of, say, 200,000 words. By the newspaper estimate that there are on average five letters per word, that’s a million letters. What is the likelihood that our monkey, typing continuously (we ignore upper case and punctuation), will get the book in a given string of a million letters?

    “He has a 1/26 chance of getting the first letter, times a 1/26 chance of the second, and so on. The chance of getting the book in a million characters is therefore one in 26 to the millionth power. I don’t have a calculator handy, but we can get an approximation. Since 26 = 10(log 26), then 261,000,000 = 10(log 26 x 1,000,000). Since log 10 = 1 and log 100 = 2, log 26 has to be between, somewhere on the low end. Call it 1.2.

    “The monkey thus has one chance in 1 followed by 1,200,000 zeros. That is what mathematicians call a GBH (Gret Big Honker). For practical purposes, one divided by that rascal is zero. If you had a billion billion monkeys (more monkeys than I want) typing a billion billion letters a second, for a billion billion times the estimated age of the universe (1018 seconds is sometimes given), the chance of getting the book would still be essentially zero.”

    END EXCERPT

    And Dr. Simon Berkovich, not referencing God, discusses the possibilities of human consciousness here:

    http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/Research/Berkovich.htm

    # # #

    A Note on Science and NDE

    (A scientific model why memory aka consciousness cannot reside solely in the brain)

    A Note on Science and NDE, By Simon Berkovich, Professor of Engineering and Applied Science at the George Washington University.*

    Below is an introductory discussion of more theoretical papers exploring the idea that DNA information in living organisms is not complex enough to explain the quantity and diversity of information processed in and by the organism as a whole, and by the brain in particular.

    Instead, it is postulated that the DNA information serves as a unique identification key for a given organism, like a “barcode.” As such, the brain is merely a transmitter and receiver of information, but not the main place for storage or processing of information (i.e. memories)

    http://arxiv.org/abs/physics/0111093

    The current scientific picture of the world hangs on the assumption that life is merely a result of complex transformations of molecular structures. Under this scientific assumption, many biological phenomena including the near death experience should not exist. What is missing, in this assumption, is that the functioning of living systems has little to do with physics and chemistry. Primarily, it is a problem of organization of information control. For instance, if a living system is governed by an information processing mechanism, it must follow regular principles of organization of information – particularly, when this stipulation relates to the brain.

    Why should a biological organism go along with the laws of physics and be exempt from obeying the fundamental requirements of information processing? These requirements are unquestionable. But biological science usually avoids looking at informational processing on an engineering level since the needs of information processing cannot be satisfied by using conventional physics. In other words, the current scientific paradigm for biological organisms can not sustain a routine engineering analysis used by the methodology of information systems design.

    # # # [END EXCERPT]

    The limitations of evolution to explain life he has highlighted, along with other dissident scientists, including Dr. Rupert Sheldrake, was was stabbed but recovered. (Project Monarch, anyone?)

    As Arthur C. Clarke, himself an atheist but no stranger to exploring the existence of a “higher intelligence” with his BFF Stanley Kubrick, stated:

    “There are some not-very-bright and/or badly educated people who complain, with apparent sincerity, that scientific research destroys the wonders and magic of nature. One can imagine the indignant reaction of such poets as Tennyson or Shelley to this nonsense, and surely it is better to know the truth than to dabble in delusions, however charming they may be. Almost invariably, the truth turns out to be far more strange and wonderful than the wildest fantasy. The great J. B. S. Haldane put it very well when he said: ‘The universe is not only queerer than we imagine — it is queerer than we can imagine.’”

    And with that in mind, this essay of Stanley’s last film, one of three parts, may prove of interest or provoke outrage. I merely wish to provoke thought, a difficult task indeed in the snake pit the Internet often is.

    http://vigilantcitizen.com/moviesandtv/the-hidden-and-not-so-hidden-messages-in-stanley-kubriks-eyes-wide-shut-pt-i/

    I am glad to see some civility displayed here.

  53. Natalie on February 19, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    THANK YOU for writing this!!!!

    Amen!!!

    Stinking heady, know it alls. How can you look around for milliseconds and not see God in this world?

  54. Pamela Seley on February 20, 2014 at 1:20 am

    Maybe our souls will burn in hell if don’t do what we are born to do. Maybe avoiding resistance is a pact with the devil and some of us (I would say it’s likely most of us) are unaware we made that deal until our lives, inside and out, turn to absolute shit. If we’re lucky we can do something about it. Beating the devil is a great story.

  55. Laura on February 22, 2014 at 8:44 am

    Steve,
    I love your analogy for those of your followers who believe in a divine entity. It fits very neatly and appropriately into that worldview.
    I am an agnostic (don’t really know enough to say one way or another and am not particularly bothered either way), and the way I see it, we are hardwired against risk.
    The human species, which at one point was limited to a mere 5,000 or so individuals, did not survive because everyone got in their own little boats to go out and explore and find their higher selves, but because they banded together, caught the fish, built the huts, weathered the fierce storms,etc. We are all descended from these hardscrabble individuals and their traits still survive in us. In other words, to survive, we must stick together, work together, and not stray from that goal. Those who did strike out on their own (literally, not with a big group of others) for the most part probably didn’t survive and their genes for risk taking did not carry on in large numbers. Those who didn’t stick with the program were more likely to be either eaten by wolves, sacrificed to the god Thor, or burnt at the stake. (Of course, i am making all this up and there is absolutely no evidence of this at all!)

    Flash forward many thousands of years, and our survival as a species is no longer at stake, much like calories are no longer scarce (for the fortunate).
    In some ways, we must now go against our hardwiring to survive and prosper. This is the way your philosophy makes the most sense to me.

    Still, I admire how you connected your philosophy on Resistance to your own belief in the divine.

  56. Tricia on March 5, 2014 at 8:27 am

    Wow. I needed to hear this today! Thankyou. It all makes sense and now I have the tool to overcome resistance. Great post!

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