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How to Count Coup on The Gods

“The greater the obstacle, the more glory in overcoming it.” ~Moliere

Realize, here at the outset: the only reason the gods exist in the second place is because our fear of death exists in the first place. This understanding is crucial toward making your “coup stick” robust enough to count coup on the gods.

When it comes down to it, our death anxiety is the bedrock of our vanity, our fallibility, our imperfections, our hypocrisies, and our stress. It’s no wonder that the gods are so vain, fallible, imperfect, hypocritical, and anxious. They were created in our image, after all, and they can just as easily be destroyed. So, the first way to count coup on the gods is to count coup on yourself.

Count coup on yourself:

“They will say you are on the wrong road, if it is your own.” ~Antonio Porchia

Counting coup is a Native American act of courage referring to the winning of prestige in battle through the social leveling mechanism of shaming. A coup warrior is a person who wins prestige by uncommon acts of bravery in the face of fear. Danger and risk are required to count coup and it is recorded by touching (shaming) an enemy with a coup stick in battle and then escaping unharmed. A coup stick can be anything.

Counting coup is a metaphor for dangerously and humorously shocking the self and your fellow man into wakefulness by questioning things to the nth degree. It’s a way of sneaking up on your ego, on your fears and certainties, and giving them a little smack with your coup stick.

When you’re counting coup on yourself, you’re counting coup on that which is unhealthy and fearful within you. You’re counting coup on that which is rigid and dogmatic in your worldview. When you count coup on fear, sloth, narcissism and extremism, you do it so that vitality, courageous action, and diversity might emerge. You do it so that you can, like Thoreau said, “Live deliberately.”

The revolution begins at home. If you count coup on yourself again and again, you might earn the right to count coup on the rest of us. Indeed, with enough practice you might even earn the right to count coup on the gods themselves.

Steal Fire:

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled but a fire to be kindled.” ~Plutarch

“The gods” can be anything that has power over you. It can be as simple as your boss. It can be as sinister as The Powers That Be. It can be as existential as mortality itself. Or it can literally be any god or God that we have created in our extensive mythology as a species.

But power can always be tapped. It can always be syphoned. It can always be stolen. The gods may have power, but they do not own it. It’s your job to understand this and then flip the script.

Stealing fire from the gods is drawing upon power itself despite those who lay claim to it. It’s the profound realization that the power you don’t have can only be earned through blood sweat and tears, and any power that others have is always vulnerable no matter how invulnerable it might seem.

Power is always ripe for the plucking, you need only the courage to pluck it. As Prometheus said, “I would rather be chained to this rock than be the obedient servant of the gods.”

Stealing power from the gods is also a metaphor for discovery within deep mystery (between worlds), and then it’s the audacity to bring that discovery back to the “tribe” in the form of magic elixir.

Stealing fire from the gods is having the boldness to crash through the gates of the Creative Gatekeepers and to take a dive into the Meta-masterpiece of the human condition. Then it’s the ability to “swim,” to discover the Flow State in the undertow, to become the conduit for High Art, to tap the fountainhead. It’s the courage to creatively lash out, to stretch the comfort zone so far that it subsumes the metaparadigm of Art itself.

Speak truth to power:

“One man who stopped lying could bring down a tyranny.” ~Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

Speaking truth to power is making a declaration of interdependence in the face of codependent power constructs. It’s counting coup on authority. It’s practicing strategic (nonviolent) civil disobedience, especially when it makes the Powers That Be uncomfortable. It’s becoming a social leveling mechanism par excellence.

Lest you give into the corruption that arises from entrenched power, you must remain a self-empowered individual seeking self-mastery through sound leadership, rather than a self-inured individual blindly following a chain of obedience.

As Albert Camus suggested, “It is the job of thinking people not to be on the side of the executioners.” But then you must go beyond and teach others (the docile and complacent) how not to be on the side of the executioners.

All you need is courage and hope. Courage to speak for a healthy world, and hope that people will choose to be healthy. But courage must come first. Backbone first, wishbone second. Having a backbone is leading by robust