12. I will strive always for mindfulness and clarity of soul.
Within each of us lies a dungeon full of prisoners, locked away from the sun because they were unacceptable to our world. They are our fears, rages, illusions, the lost things that we mourn for, the weaknesses that we are ashamed of. Sometimes we like to pretend that they aren't there. We may have convinced ourselves that some of them do not exist at all, and thus we are often surprised when they temporarily seize control of our bodies and make us do things we regret later, when they are frantically stuffed back into the basement. I lost control, we say, and yet denying them is a false control, one that simply bides time until the next sudden coup.
The twelfth principle demands that you create a discipline of awareness, and follow it rigorously. There is no reason to ever cease introspection, and learning more about oneself. Shiva's path, which is the destruction of all our illusions about ourselves, is a hard one, but this is a necessary component of the Order's path. We are all imperfect humans, and none of us are without the need to examine ourselves constantly.
To have a discipline of awareness is to learn to use difficult times, stress, and emotional pain as a tool for self-improvement. It is learning to be grateful for psychological hardship that forces one to confront hard things that you hate. It is being uncompromising with yourself about your motives and agendas, and all your personal pettiness. It is looking unflinchingly at all the darkest places in your soul, making regular journeys into your depths, and shining light on all that writhes in the dusty corners.
Some of this is what could be called "monster work", or "shadow work". One's monsters often blend together, as they are composed of all that was relegated to the subconscious during your formative years. Some are merely socially unacceptable; some would actually be dangerous if allowed to make your decisions, but that does not mean that they should be ignored and not allowed to participate in your life. Monsters are needs, and needs have to be met, in one way or another. Anything that you cage becomes a responsibility, a charge that you must nurture and keep well, even if it is too crippled or too dangerous to let roam the streets. If you show your monsters that you respect them, love them, and are willing to meet them halfway and come up with some kind of acceptable nourishment, they behave a lot better.
Some of this work is the stripping away of illusions. Every illusion that has been carefully built into your world view is a tool, a crutch for helping you to face something difficult. Sometimes those crutches are necessary, but you need to acknowledge them, and that you will have to learn to do without them someday, and make progress toward that time.
To walk this path is to learn that when you stumble over a vague fear or discomfort strong enough to make you want to walk away, you should instead run toward the fear or discomfort, and not away from it. Become the predator, not the prey. Chase it down root it out, find its origins and its motives, hold it up to the light. Become stronger than it. Even if you cannot eradicate it, you can keep it from having any power over you. The best - and harshest - treatment for fears and discomforts is immediate confrontation, and repeated confrontation until its sting is now harmless to you. It is a concept alien to most of us....run toward it, not away from it. Say those words over and over as you work through Shiva's principle.
The Twelfth Principle can be followed fully and completely by any member of the Order, whether lay or House. There is no excuse for anything but a wholehearted leap into its depths. In fact, one of the ways by which you can tell if you are suited to this sort of path is whether or not the idea of a constant discipline of awareness appeals to you, or makes you uncomfortable enough that you don't really want to consider it. If you believe that you've already rooted out everything in your subconscious, and that you have nothing left to learn, well, perhaps you need to examine your extreme need to seem perfect to total strangers.
[Order of the Horae]