The Juggernaut of Self Will

Juggernaut: “Something such as a blind belief or institution, that elicits blind devotion to which someone is ruthlessly sacrificed.” ~ Merriam-Webster Dictionary

A juggernaut of magical thinking has descended upon the land and caused many to detach themselves from the real world. This magical thinking has engendered a false sense of empowerment which manifests itself in the thought that through the strength of my will I can call into existence whatever I want, whenever I want.

This could be called the Juggernaut of Self Will.

The word juggernaut first showed up in the English language around 1850. It was a description of a scene in a Hindu religious festival where the juggernaut of the temple cart would reputedly crush Hindu adherents who threw themselves under its wheels in an act of self-sacrifice.

As a boy I heard the word used to describe the death and destruction left by the German Panzer Division as it rampaged across Europe in the early days of World War II. This was a juggernaut imposed on the world by the will of one man: Hitler.

Then I learned in AA how my will became the juggernaut of my own ruin.

Each of us has had his own near-fatal encounter with the juggernaut of self-will, and has suffered enough under its weight to be willing to look for something better.” ~ The Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous

It all made sense. Hadn’t I sacrificed my marriage, my business and nearly my life at the alter of self?

And yet, to be honest, letting go of my self will turned out to be the hardest challenge in my life.

You see, I like thinking as though I’m master of the universe. In fact, it wasn’t until 1994, nine years into my sobriety, that I finally began the process of letting go.

I was living in Chicago and hurrying home from the south side to watch a Bulls playoff game. (It was during the Michael Jordan years when nobody missed a game!)

I was running late and was speeding — like, really speeding.

When I came to the intersection of 95th and Cicero I was traveling about 60 miles per hour. Just as the light changed I spotted a car coming from the east traveling just as fast as me, but rather than slow down, I decided to enter into a deadly game of chicken and run the light. It soon became apparent I was headed for a high speed collision. I closed my eyes and prepared myself for impact.

Such is the juggernaut of a rioting self will.

Then, by some miracle, I was granted a reprieve. I passed through the intersection unscathed!

I was stunned.

I thought for sure I’d be lying in pieces on Cicero Avenue. My heart was pounding like a jackhammer and I was shaking from head to toe. 

I damn near crashed for not wanting to miss the start of a Bulls game!?

I sat in stunned silence for maybe ten minutes, trying to come to terms with what I’d just done. Here I’d been sober for nearly 10 years and still hadn’t fully surrendered my self will — still hadn’t torn down the temple I’d constructed to myself. It damn well could have cost me my life. The message in my first AA meeting came roaring back to me. “The juggernaut of self will whose final achievement is personal ruin.”

I never was the same after that near miss. I walked away knowing one thing for sure: I had used up my last get out of jail free card.

If I was ever going to survive I needed to forsake the voices that whispered:

  • I’m something special
  • Rules don’t apply to me
  • I’m my own higher power

If I didn’t start nurturing a humble spirit and bend my knee to a Higher Power I’d soon find myself fertilizing the soil of some cemetery.

Aeschylus reminds us doom awaits those who answer only to the dictates of the self.

“Shameless self-willed infatuation
Emboldens men to dare damnation,
And starts the wheels of doom which roll
Relentless to their piteous goal.”  
Aeschylus, Agamemnon

It’s only when we surrender to the CREATOR OF US ALL that we are able to break the deadly juggernaut of self will and join the drama that is life, not as the director but as just one more grateful actor.

Just a thought…


Copyright © 2023 Patrick J. Moriarty. All Rights Reserved.

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