Confessions of an angry soldier
Well well. It seems like it’s story time. Kick off your shoes, put your feet up and indulge in the story of the mad soldier
I was an amazingly creative kid. I scrabbled on the walls of the house where I was growing up with my 3 brothers even before I could walk. By age 6 I could paint better than kids twice my age. I just loved it so I did it every day. I also had an uncommon bond to nature. I spent entire days in the wild (we were lucky to live on the border of a town with nature at our doorstep and government was not stealing children from parents who gave their offsprings freedom yet) feeling safe and nurtured. I could name all the plants, trees and animals, it was my world.
Back then, in Czechoslovakia, we were not pampered as kids. Accidents happened and sorting out problems with fists (or worse) was common. We got scarred but we also learned to take care of ourselves.
August 1982, Jan and his brother Karel
Despite the many problems I got into, mainly due to my extreme passion about nature protection and my “idea of justice” (which I fought for with anyone including teachers or bullies) I was doing fine. I had excellent grades and that made up for rebellious manners (beating on naked buttocks administered in principal’s office seemed like a friendly ritual to me).
That period of innocence (however declining) ended abruptly one cold winter night on an ice hockey match. One aggressive bulky teenager (friend of a guy who went to the same school) picked me up from the crowd because he didn’t like me “being the smart kid” (I went to selected class for talented kids since I was 10). He cornered me and proceeded to humiliate me in the most thorough way, spitting in my face and slapping me around while insulting me in the worst way he could think of. And I thanked him for all this, because he did not beat me up to a pulp. Everyone was laughing. I was 13 and the humiliation was much worse than any beating I ever got (and I got quite a few).
“Illumination”, oil and genuine gold on 52×64″ canvas, available (but not for long most likely:)
That freezing night, as I was walking home, I felt my heart close tight. Later in the darkness of my room, in between sobs of desperation, I made a promise to myself that I won’t let anyone ever to defeat me like this. I felt like a complete coward, I was so ashamed of myself, and so angry at the cruel injustice of it. Little did I know that the emotional charge within me was so powerful that it completely restructured my subconscious beliefs and made me run on an entirely new program: fear and aggression (same thing btw…).
I stopped painting and going to nature and I started over-eating, lifting weights and signed up in the local boxing team. I had revenge on my mind and I gave it all my dedication. Within a year I was a perfect tool for my anger: muscular with a quick heavy punch and very mad. By age 15 I had my revenge but I didn’t stop there, I became a leader of a street gang of boys who were too big for their age and all we wanted was a tough reputation, which we pursued mercilessly. By age 16 I was arrested for first serious troubles with the law and by age 18 I could confidently say that I was in hundreds of fights and won most of them.
Everyone knew me and I thought I made it. In reality I was living in abyss of fear. Eventually I got into even more serious troubles with the law and had a choice between prison or running away from my home country. “They will never put me in a cell” was my thought, as I prepared myself mentally and physically for yet another challenge: In June 1998, just after I turned 19, I took a 3 day train journey to southern France and few days later I knocked on the door of French Foreign Legion recruitment centre in Nice.
“Love Grenade”, oil on 20×16″ canvas, sold
What followed in the next 5 years would be a book for itself. It took me many years before the Love Grenade exploded in my heart. I went to 3 overseas missions and I carried the same anger within me. Again I was singled out because I learned French too fast and made few chronic bullies feel insecure. I was subject to so much physical and mental abuse that if I could run back home, I would. But no, nobody could lock me up in a cell, so I endured.
During my first mission in Bosnia one of my superiors hit me in the head for no good reason and smashed my eardrum. I was ordered to dig a hole the entire night while my ear was bleeding and I could only see the doctor in the morning, who immediately sent me to field hospital in Sarajevo, where I was operated.
I could do nothing again against this “injustice”. I was in the same miserable powerless position as 7 years before. All I had were my dreams of revenge and anger hot as lava. Or so I thought. If only the opening paragraph of Shantaram was written back then and got to my hands, I might have realized my predicament sooner (brilliant book of love through hardship which I devoured twice years later on my travels).
All this suffering served a divine purpose. It always does, because it pushes us to give up our self-sabotaging thought patterns and surrender to a greater mind which is Benevolent. It’s either this or a slow (or fast) decay, an “unfortunate accident” (which wasn’t really an accident) or a disease (cancer epidemy has a root cause in the mind).
For me the turning point came as a realization that me, and me alone, I am the source of my suffering. All of it. That doesn’t mean that I was guilty. It just meant that shit happened and I made a victim story around it that ran my entire life on a survival program instead of letting it go in the moment.
When I left the army and went into corporate world, and then left that world too in order to get lost in the wide world out there, which was calling me, I eventually ended up in India, at the end of an epic pleasure-hunt, feeling as unhappy and dissatisfied as ever. I knew that this time I can’t keep on running. An angel showed up and signed me up for 10 days Vipassana meditation and I knew I had to show up too.
10 days I sit in silence facing all my pains, in both body and mind, and at the end my first real breakthrough came. When our teacher announced, after the last meditation, that the wow of silence is broken and we are done, the guy next to me (who somehow happened to be Czech too), put a hand on my knee, looked me in the eye for the first time and said: “We made it brother”. And that was it. The dam burst inside of me and I cried and cried.
I cried the joy of remembering and…
my soul just opened up
and out poured all things
I’d been hiding
and living through … (you all know the breathtaking poem of Gemmia Vanzant …)
“Raphael walking through burning Matrix”, oil on 72×48″ canvas, available
I wish I could say that this was a permanent reset. But of course it went back to the old ways. Of course I strayed from my path many more times. Of course I still indulged in short lived pleasures to numb my pain. I didn’t break jaws anymore but I broke a few hearts, and my heart was broken in return.
But that moment of clarity, of remembering of my true self beyond the problems-filled “personality self”, left me with an unforgettable aftertaste of “sweet nectar of truth”. I was hooked and I wanted to come back to that space of infinite peace, joy and love. And back I came, through more suffering and more letting go.
Sitting here, 10 years later, I feel like the turbulent clouds are finally clearing up from my vision. Life is so achingly simple. It really is. We just complicate it in such an ingenious way that we all deserve a medal for stubbornness and deafness. Life is constantly whispering in our ear what is right for us. We all have the inner joy-radar that instantly tells us what feels right. But our analytical mind gets in the way with ideas of righteousness, morality and other shades of “how things should be”.
If we just learned to surrender and say YES to what life puts in front of us. To what excites the playful child in us instead of constantly swimming against the flow. To say YES to the “first thought” (which always comes from the Divine, before mind gets hold of it) without over-thinking if it can provide us enough money so that we can buy the things that we don’t need. Money is nothing but energy and energy is abundant in an open flow of giving and receiving. All you need to do, is give the calling your best. Not your second best, but your best. Say yes to life and give the thing that makes you happy, that pulls you out of bed in the morning, that makes you feel like it’s not work but it’s play, your absolute best.
Everything is energy. We are made of very little matter, and almost entirely composed of energy. Most of that energy is unfortunately used by our unconscious mind to perpetuate a belief system that was formed in our childhood and is filled with self-limitations and fear. But even that energy, however negative it is, once seen (awareness through meditation is essential for this) can be used for breakthrough to the light. Fear can be used to break the very pattern that created it. And as Dr Joe Dispenza (I cannot recommend him ENOUGH!) always says: every time I breakthrough to the present moment, no matter how many hours I had to sit and almost give it up, I always think the same exact thought: THAT WAS SO WORTH IT!
If I used all the willpower I dedicated to become tough and have my revenge to self-realization instead, I would most likely be walking the Elysian Fields with a serene Buddha smile on my face by now. On the other hand, if I did not go through all my self-generated hardships, I would not have reached the point of resignation that pushed me to surrender. Truth always comes as a paradox and that is why the best answer to anything is: Thank You. With that, you can work. You can do miracles. With past, you can only suffer. Forgive and trust in everything and everyone, it’s just a mirror for our inner work.
I talk more about this art of alchemy into my latest YouTube video (where you can also see how I created my latest Buddha painting):
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So I am infinitely grateful for what I know now. It took me almost 3 decades but my life is changing at a tremendous speed. Life is blowing full force into the sails of my destiny. Energy I wasted on weekend bar sessions, looking good and chasing the opposite sex (or punching the clown), I use to keep the fire of my dedication burning so I do meditate daily, so I do breathe consciously daily, so I do slow down and remember to be humble and kind rather than to be right; so I do paint daily, to always remind myself of why I came on this planet at this time: To Awaken again so That I can inspire to Awaken as many fellow humans as I can: through my art, my word, my actions, my thoughts and my state of being.
We are all multi-dimensional divine beings with unlimited potential on a temporary human journey. No matter how bad you got hurt, how tight your heart shut, how desperate your situation seems, there is a way out and that way is from within.
As Charles Bukowski says: There is a light out there. It might not be much light, but it beats the darkness.
Your Life is Your Life, don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission!
And by submission I mean anything that strays you from your journey back home.
And just to reassure you. I am not a master of any of these techniques. As a matter of fact I am currently going though the toughest heartbreak of my life because of my own insecurities. And I feel so beaten and abandoned at times that it takes all my willpower to get though another day and keep on creating and smiling back at pain (and no I’m not saying this to be a victim or to ask for your love). This too shall pass, I know!
I’m saying this to show you that I am but a humble student and I still fail every day. What changed is the time it takes me to get up again, take a deep breath and do my best to change for the better, for myself, for my beloved ones, for this world. I don’t indulge in self-pity for long. I stand back up the same day and do my best, even if it’s not the best for everyone, it’s still my best. And I know that everyone can do that, however small is their best is. Is there any other way really?
Thank you for reading and being here,
So much Love,
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