TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 4

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.”

~ Rollo May

ELP Butterfly

In Parts 1 through 3 of this series (LINK), I have suggested an idea about the nature of the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence from the Spiral Dynamics™ Model. Namely, that the Green Level is where organizations go to die – in the sense that the caterpillar enters the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar, but to emerge as the butterfly.

Green nature has many facets, and it also provides a “launching pad” into 2nd Tier Levels of Existence. 2nd Tier is starkly different from 1st Tier. The preparation for what Clare Graves (LINK) called the ”momentous leap” from the Green Level to the Yellow Level is nothing if not significant, requiring a massive change in consciousness.

“To move beyond the Green memetic mindset and consciousness requires that you start to really and honestly understand, appreciate, and respect your own and other people’s incomparable cosmic singularity. So long as you compare yourself with others (equality is a term of comparison) you will remain in the mode of deficiency. When you realize your and other people’s incomparability, you enter the existential mode of abundance and start to live in the world of abundance and plenitude.”

~ Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, President & CEO, Vision-In-Action, LLC

2nd Tier consciousness is not fear-based. That is a huge distinction, as most of our energies when we occupy 1st Tier levels go into self-protection, ego defenses, and creating the structures which provide these. As we move to 2nd Tier, this changes, moving into an empowered, love-based ego structure. There is currently no well-defined pathway into 2nd Tier, but this transition clearly requires significant changes in one’s self-image.

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift.”

~ Richard Rohr

Sign - Self Knowledge

When an organization or spiritual community emerges into the Green Level of Existence, one of four outcomes is possible:

  1. A long period occupying Green due to either unhealthy expression, a lack of 2nd Tier Living Conditions being present, or a lack of 2nd Tier development by the spiritual leadership. This is a good thing when there is movement toward a healthy expression of Green.
  2. A transition to 2nd Tier occurs over time – this requires a healthy Green foundation to be successful.
  3. A regression to Orange due to unhealthy Green or a change to Orange-centered leadership.
  4. The organization or spiritual community ceases to exist.

Major challenges for spiritual leadership within organizations or spiritual communities that are entering or centered in the Green Level of Existence are twofold: (1) to guide them toward a healthy expression of Green and (2) to shepherd them through the transition to 2nd Tier when that is appropriate. And, if it is time for a spiritual community to cease to be, wise leadership will hospice that process.

While arrival at the Green Level may not have occurred for many spiritual communities, it is on their agenda. As Living Conditions (the cultural world around us) grow more complex, humans are called to adapt to that complexity by moving their Level of Existence farther up the spiral. Here are my suggestions for spiritual leadership who are recognizing these dynamics:

  1. Grow your knowledge about cultural evolution. Models such as Spiral Dynamics (LINK), Theory U (LINK), and Edgewalkers (LINK) are important tools in this regard. Get a coach/mentor to work with you – this is not a solo journey.
  2. Seek to expand your capacity to be creative and bold. Evolutionary leadership skills are essential to determining who will thrive in the future. Success will come to those who are willing to make decisions that require deep knowledge and the willingness to risk being judged (LINK). Remember that significant transformation is on our agenda. How will we respond to that challenge? We are not planning for catastrophe, we are setting the stage to thrive in the chaos.
  3. Grow the knowledge of your community leadership team as well – ensure that you are developing evolutionary leadership capacities in your spiritual community.
  4. Speak about evolutionary growth – personal and communal – when you address your community members. Your future leadership team is in the audience every time you speak.
  5. Remember that, for the most part, people with different value systems are not corrupt or lacking understanding – they are operating from the values system of their Level(s) of Existence. When spiritual leaders are aware of this, they can expand their field of compassion to include those with different values than their own (whether higher or lower on the spiral!). The key is to encourage healthy expressions from each of the levels present.
  6. It is critical that spiritual leaders understand and model the healthy aspects of each Level of Existence present in the community. To do this, develop an awareness of the spiral, and do the deep personal work to develop greater capacities for compassion.
  7. Those centered at the Green Level will advocate for processes like governing by consensus and shared leadership. It takes wise leaders to recognize that consensus is only viable when everyone is operating from the Green Level.

Those centered at Blue and Orange value authoritarian leaders and majority rule. When consensus is imposed, they will find it very difficult to respond authentically – they will feel coerced. Shared leadership feels good to those at Green, however, it often results in a lack of clear accountability, which is a significant liability for any organization with Blue/Orange structures and proceduresGreen will tend to insist that everyone else be as “evolved” as they are, and have little patience with those who currently occupy the same places on the spiral that those now at Green occupied a short time ago. The tendency of those centered at Green to insist that no one feel discomfort or use abrasive speech can also be an obstacle to progressive growth.

“We live in a bourgeois cocoon of niceness and anything that breaks out of that is very threatening and disruptive to people. We have to work towards having honest speech with each other. When we have honest speech, we have to speak out about the things that are unjust and unfair. We need a more honest and abrasive speech to bring our talk into connection with our social reality. Any intent to curb that kind of speech is a desire to not have reality pointed out to us. But if we don’t have reality pointed out to us nothing will ever change.”

~ Walter Brueggemann

  1. At 2nd Tier, leadership moves away from both authoritarian leadership and shared leadership. In most organizations operating at 2nd Tier levels, anyone can make any decision at any time! (LINK) Imagine leading such an organization. Can you see now why the “leap” to 2nd Tier is so momentous?

What is required of spiritual leadership in these times is a deeper step into our own authenticity. If something new and different is required of us in these times of accelerated change, that something is already within us, awaiting our permission for it to emerge. The process is not one of becoming different, but of becoming more of who we already are. Finding our inner genius, our inner lover of life, and bringing them forward is our calling. We in New Thought have the tools to do so.

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

spiral_staircase_photography

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 3

In this part of the series, I am going to provide two resources referring to the Green Level of Existence (vMEME) specifically, and heathy expressions of Blue, Orange and Green along the spiral from the Findhorn Foundation (LINK). In Part 4, I will suggest some practices for spiritual leadership regarding moving into a healthy version of Green and into the transition into 2nd Tier.

“The (Postmodernist-Green) personality deliberately exercises choice which directs life toward allegiances which are beyond the boundaries of natural communities and the organized state and toward the ultimate hopes of mankind. He or she seeks to widen the ties of fellowship without respect to birth, caste or property, and disavows claims to special privilege or the exclusivity of leadership. He or she replaces Godly authority with the temporal authority of the time and the place. He or she softens the features which identify a person with a particular society or culture. . . .The (person at Green) is focused on intensive cultivation of a belief in freedom, not a belief of freedom.

To the (person at Green), technology is for human needs, not power, productivity, profit or prestige and scientific endeavor is not for ruthless exploitation or desecration. Scientific endeavor is for depth exploration of all regions not just physical regions, so as to provide for the inner human knowledge that will assure human (mastery).

The (person at Green) indulges in the dematerialization of self, in self-transcending endeavors which reach beyond concern with one’s own survival, beyond the over-rational and irrational, beyond mechanical uniformity toward a concept of organic unity. He or she operates by the belief that we are all one and should seek to enhance human expression to provide for a world society based on human values. He or she believes one should know both the objective and the subjective and show the ability to face one’s whole self and direct every part of it to a more unified development.

~ Clare Graves

And from the Findhorn Foundation (FF) Guest Department’s review (by Christine Lines) of healthy characteristics along the spiral (LINK):

Healthy Blue – structure and order

  • Solid methodological approach to updating procedures, systems, manuals etc.
  • Valuing the benefits of rules, regulations and structure for personal, team and organisational functioning
  • Clear roles within the team – stability and experience
  • Understands and fulfills its contribution to the FF within existing structures
  • Minimal need for process – balance of team bonding and task focus
  • Focus on detail – weekly guest numbers/income – combined with long-term strategy
  • Flow of communication with interconnected holons (eg. the Bookings Team and Program Co-ordination and Liaison)

Healthy Orange – achievement

  • Motivation to be effective, efficient and successful generating income from ethically sound activities (profit with purpose)
  • Focaliser (LINK) inspiring the team to be the best it can be and reach goals set
  • Spirit of collaboration with co-worker body and wider community
  • Engaging with the true spirit of sport – the fun and dynamism of taking part as a player in a team
  • Natural innovation – seeking to learn from other leaders in the field to evolve beyond current practices
  • Accepted accountability and responsibility for GD income
  • Accepted leadership in relation to task

Healthy Green – community

  • Motivation for harmony and belonging through team bonding week, weekly attunements (meditation, sharing, business, and supervision when requested)
  • Shared contemplation/shadow work – minimal energy lost in process
  • Focus on culture and empowerment to bring our unique gifts to the whole
  • Embody founding practices of the FF
  • Invested in well-being of the FF as a whole
  • Focaliser led by inclusive decision-making practices and communication flow
  • Team members highly appreciative and supportive of each other
  • Flexibility of working hours

Healthy Teal (Yellow) – integrating, functionality and efficiency

  • Awareness and discernment of the light and shadow aspects of all previous levels and a commitment to embody this perception as a sensor for the FF as a Center of Love and Light
  • Intuitive approach to focaliser role that integrates the healthy aspects of all previous levels
  • Continual Personal Development – the journey is never over
  • Explored its creative potential, expanded beyond traditional GD focaliser role
  • Engagement in the FF Education Revisioning process – listening to our evolutionary purpose

 findhorn-foundation-powerpoint-presention-1-638

Some of these healthy expressions relate specifically to the Findhorn Foundation, however, they can be generalized and specialized to your own community or organization, as you create your own list(s). I include the three main levels of existence we are likely to encounter in our society here, plus 2nd Tier (which FF calls Teal, after Ken Wilber’s work, but is equivalent to Yellow in the Spiral Dynamics Model). Spiritual leadership needs to recognize the levels present and to identify healthy vs. unhealthy expressions. Also, knowing how the multiple levels express allows visioning toward higher levels within the community as appropriate.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 2

“How does one become a butterfly?” Pooh asked pensively.

“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,” Piglet replied.

“You mean to die?” asked Pooh.

“Yes and no” he answered. “What looks like you will die, but what’s REALLY you will live on.”

~ A.A. Milne

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

The transformation story of the caterpillar into the butterfly is one that every metaphysician knows and has used as a vehicle for understanding deep change. The caterpillar spins the chrysalis without knowing about the butterfly; the butterfly, emerging from the same chrysalis, knows not of the caterpillar. Each is, essentially, the other, but their existences are very different. Something emerges within the caterpillar which tells it to spin the chrysalis and, once inside, what are known as imaginal cells emerge; the cells which contain the image of the new level of being: the butterfly.

Initially, the remaining vestiges of the caterpillar’s immune system destroy the imaginal cells as they appear. But over time, more and more emerge and they become the directing intelligence of the process of transformation. If all goes well, a butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis – the crawling creature takes flight as something different and yet the same.

In many ways, the transformative transition from caterpillar to butterfly mirrors the transition of people, communities, and organizations from 1st to 2nd Tier on the spiral. If a  spiritual community is to move from the Green Level of Existence or vMEME to the Yellow Level, it must undergo transformation. It must, in essence, shed the 1st Tier structures, values, and ways of being, or DIE to them, so that the new 2nd Tier structures, values, and ways of being can emerge.

ELP Butterfly

“A butterfly is not merely a caterpillar with wings. It has a completely different metabolism, feeding on, and processing, nectar instead of leaves, flying large distances instead of crawling from leaf to leaf. By the same token, Integrative Culture represents not merely a change in itself. It also represents a change in the way change is sought.”

~ Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture

When an organization moves into the Postmodern-Green Values System, it begins the process of shedding the Blue and Orange structures, values, and ways of being. Often, this is not a conscious process, in which case it may well go badly. When there is no awareness of the emerging dynamics or of the Living Conditions affecting the organization, the new is likely to be fought, like the caterpillar’s immune system fights the imaginal cells. This can result in getting stuck in an increasingly irrelevant place behind an advancing world, or in the ultimate demise of the organization.

Cartoon - Transformation without Cahnges

At first, what is emerging within us both individually and collectively, will seem alien, and our tendency is to cling to what we have done in the past. The caterpillar has the advantage of having the chrysalis as a sort of isolation chamber, and of turning into a formless goo, which makes acting to delay or divert the process very difficult. Even then, sometimes the organism does not complete the transition; no butterfly emerges.

Human minds are so much more complex than the purely instinctual caterpillar, therefore,  spiritual communities or organizations and its leadership must stay conscious and intact during the transition process as 2nd Tier values and ways of being emerge. This does involve a “death” of the Blue/Orange structures, most of which are the result of a fear-based consciousness of organizational design. 2nd Tier organization is very different; it has very different ways of being. The process must be wisely guided, fears must be addressed, and principles practiced as the transition unfolds. Members of the community/organization will be centered at any number of Levels of Existence as this occurs, so there will be those who see no need for the changes and who want to return to the so-called “tried and true” practices of the past.

“Anything from the past, like an idea of what man of this or that culture might or should have been, is now archaic, and the transformation we are experiencing is really of the whole sense of humanity; what it means to be a cultured and world-related human being. This is a whole new thing. And so we have all of us to leave our little provincial stories behind. They may guide us as far as structuring our lives for the moment, but we must always be ready to drop them and to grasp the new experience as it comes along and interpret it.”

~ Joseph Campbell

56097673 - leaving my comfort zone safe secure take risk nametag

We do not throw out the past, but neither do we view the past as the source of our future ways of being. The answers of the past are not the answers of our present nor of our future. We must depend on the emergence of new Levels of Existence – healthy Postmodernist-Green and Integral-Yellow – to bring us new answers and more appropriate values systems for the world we are entering.

“Many see looming catastrophe, but few of us have realized that this crisis is driving us toward positive change, a quantum transformation.” 

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard (via Twitter)

Indeed, our times may seem catastrophic, but always within the chaos is the seed of the next level, the new world. The butterfly of New Thought will be as different from the existing ways of being as the actual butterfly is from the caterpillar. As we enter the chrysalis of change, we cannot know what will emerge, but we can shepherd the process with wisdom, compassion, and high expectations.  We nourish nourish and support our own imaginal cells – the people who bring new ideas, new models of ministry & spiritual community. These are the evolutionary leaders of the future who will look and act very differently than the leaders of the past.

“Others will arise who will know more than we do; they won’t be better or worse, they will be different and know more than we do. Evolution is forward.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, Sermon By The Sea, Asilomar, Saturday, August 15, 1959

In Part 3, I will explore a bit more about the Green Level of Existence and a longer piece by Clare Graves, developer of what is now called Spiral Dynamics. In Part 4, I will offer some suggestions on how spiritual leadership can best move forward through these times of great cultural evolutionary change and the organizational transitions that arise from that change.

“Nature will not let us stay in any one place too long.  She will let us stay just long enough to gather the experience necessary to the unfolding and advancing of the soul.  This is a wise provision, for should we stay here too long, we would become too set, too rigid, too inflexible.  Nature demands the change in order that we should advance.  When the change comes, we should welcome it with a smile on the lips and a song in the heart.”

~ Ernest Holmes

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE (PART 1)

“Human beings are works in progress that mistakenly think they’re finished.”

~ Daniel Gilbert

 

I have frequently written in this blog about the Spiral Dynamics™ Model (LINK to Basic Info) (also info in my book – see bottom of post), a model of human development which is valuable if we are to understand the dynamics of cultural evolution of individuals, organizations, and movements in our world. As this chart shows, the Postmodernist-Green level of the model is the most complex of the 1st Tier Levels of Existence, and it is the staging point for a leap to 2nd Tier and Integral-Yellow.

Spiral - Burn Your Old Ways of Thinking

The New Thought Movement was born, in part, as a Modernist-Orange response to the more rigid and dogmatic rules and limitations of the Traditionalist-Blue level religions regarding scientific understanding, including modern psychology, and the re-imagination of ancient mystical understandings into spiritual teachings. Blue level religions had shed much of the mystical and could not accept much of modern science, which was in conflict with interpretations of scriptures.

Recall that Blue is a level of communal, self-sacrificing values, while Orange is an individualistic level where rationalism, competition, and enterprise are valued. New Thought teachings such as the Science of Mindare based on the empowerment of the individual through personal spiritual practices and spiritual technologies designed to bring the mind into harmony with positive spiritual ideals. Some understanding of modern psychology is necessary for both the understanding and the practice of the philosophy. This chart gives an overview (the order is down column 1, up column 2, and down column 3) of the Spiral Dynamics levels:

VMEMEs Simplified

According to Clare Graves (LINK), developer of the Spiral Dynamics model, it is at the intersection of 1st Tier and 2nd Tier, where a momentous leap in human consciousness and values occurs. Each level arises out of a combination of changes in external living conditions and the emergence of new complexity in individuals and groups. With each new level’s added complexity come new values systems. The shift from Green to Yellow crosses a particularly broad chasm of development. This is why it is called momentous, and why so few have made the leap thus far (estimates of those who are centered at 2nd Tier levels range from 1% to 5% of the earth’s population).

New Thought began at the Orange level, but also displayed many healthy Blue values, including using a Blue organizational design (churches, ministers, etc.). People flocked to New Thought speeches, services, classes, and rallies because it offered a new look at personal empowerment, and a re-look at spiritual healing. It thrived through the early and mid-20th Century largely because it provided opportunities for spiritual growth that were attractive to the many centered at Orange who were no longer feeling a connection to their Blue faith traditions. Yet it was not so different as to be unrecognizable to them.

But by the 1990’s the Green Level of Existence was a visible presence in New Thought. This was a return to the communal values, but at a more complex level than at Blue. Those centered at Green were capable of complex thought and had egalitarian values; their in-group is all of humanity, not just their tribe or faith tradition. They also valued feelings – even over outcome at times. They rejected Orange values such as competition, status-seeking, and money. As my good friend, Jon Freeman has written:

“The (Postmodernist-)GREEN stage of development is magnificent. It led us into the exploration of who we are, individually and collectively. It birthed psychology, anthropology and sociology. It began the dissolution of paralyzing Traditionalist-BLUE structures and countered the excessively materialistic (both financial and scientific) emphasis of the (Modernist-)ORANGE mind-set. It taught us about diversity, inclusion and consensus. It cares about the environment and challenges materialist blind spots. GREEN is co-operative, team-oriented and accepting and reawakens the human bonding that has been reduced in varying ways by all of the stages since PURPLE. During the ORANGE stage, alienation and loneliness become key human themes and twentieth century novels are filled with them; GREEN redresses this imbalance. It’s the Gravesian pendulum between ‘I and We’ in full swing.”

~ Jon Freeman

As the numbers of Green-centered New Thoughters grew, a shift began to appear in how the philosophies were taught. Perhaps the best description of this shift is to say that the teachings became “less head-centered and more heart-centered.” Where Orange focused on the rational use of spiritual laws, with Green, feelings and emotions move to the top of the list as to how one experiences their lives and how those experiences are evaluated. No longer does one look to an authority figure to validate their experience; no longer is what the spiritual leader says accepted at face value; no longer is an aloof authoritarian leadership style acceptable.

Head Heart

As a result, New Thought became a kinder faith tradition in many ways. There has been an eager (if imperfect) embrace of diversity and inclusion in our organizations and local spiritual communities. Green’s abilities to see the bigger picture helped us to link things together that were formerly seen as unconnected (example: the re-unification of the two branches of Religious Science into Centers for Spiritual Living). Heart-centered practices became more prevalent and connecting to one’s feelings became an emphasized part of New Thought.

Spiritual leaders began to embrace technologies like Visioning (LINK) and various forms of small group ministries, which represent a more collective approach to deep spiritual practice than was generally seen in Orange-centered communities. Also there has been a turn toward the world around us via outreach programs and greater involvement in spiritually motivated social action. These new and positive developments have come from the emergence of Postmodernist-Green in New Thought. Those centered at Green want deeper connections; they want to feel that what they are doing has meaning, and that all voices are being heard and honored in the process.

But there are other sides to Postmodernist-Green – a dark side of unhealthy values, and, as the gateway to 2nd Tier, it is where organizations go it die.

In Part 2 of the series, I will explore some of the growing pains of our evolution into, and perhaps, beyond the Postmodern-Green Level of Existence. For now, let me leave you with this quote from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (LINK), the great Jesuit philosopher and archaeologist:

“Material creation no longer stretches between man and God like a fog or a barrier. It develops like an elevating, enriching ambience; and it is important not to try to escape from this or release oneself from it, but to accept its reality and make our way through it. Rightly speaking, there are no sacred or profane things, no pure or impure: there is only a good direction and a bad direction – the direction of ascent, or amplifying unity, of greatest spiritual effort; and the direction of descent, of constricting egoism, or materializing enjoyment. If they are followed in the direction which leads upwards all creatures are luminous; if grasped in the direction which leads downwards, they lose their radiance and become we might almost say diabolical. According to the skill with which we set our sails to their breeze, it will either capsize our vessel or send it leaping ahead.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Toward the Future

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

THE PARIS ACCORDS: WHERE IS OUR GOOD?

I am so tired of waiting,
Aren’t you
For the world to become good
And beautiful and kind?

~ Langston Hughes 

Beautiful Earth 3

Every New Thought philosophy has in common the idea that we create our own experience by means of our conscious thoughts and feelings and that whether we are feeling empowered or in fear, that feeling tends to become realized in our experience. When we perceive that we are in danger or in crisis, we naturally have a fear response, however, whether we remain in fear is our decision.

Since the U.S. election, there has been a great deal of uncertainty and fear among many, especially those who prefer that progressive policies come out of the government. Fear about global warming is in great evidence as President Trump announced that he was taking the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

I have been taught to ask a question whenever I perceive something that generates fear within me – Where is my good?

Where is my good in the actions of the current U.S. administration?

Where is my good in the withdrawal of the U.S. from the Paris Agreement?

Where is my good in global warming?

The answer is always – My Good is within me, right now.

The Law of Mind is working perfectly, in me, around me, and through me. When I bring my thoughts and feelings into alignment with this Truth, I am able to bring my inner wisdom and compassion to bear. When I am in fear, these qualities are more difficult to access; the fear clouds my inner consciousness and denies me access. My access to Spirit within is diminished.

“Be careful to differentiate between the Law of Mind and the Spirit. The Law of Mind is a mathematical and impersonal force operating upon your thought images. This Law is like other laws of nature and should be thought of in this light. Life Itself is a spiritual Presence in the universe – the Infinite Person back of all personality. It is warm, colorful and responsive. It is the essence of love, beauty and wisdom. If we live close to nature we shall always be using the Law of Mind constructively and only good can follow.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life 

I use The Law of Mind to guide me to Spirit within, or Spirit-As-Me. This is where my wisdom and compassion lie. Fear clouds my vision and appears to block my good like the clouds in the sky appear to block the sun. When fear arises in me, I lose my ability to discern clearly what my true inner dynamics are and how I can bring them to bear on my experience of the outer world.

My Good is in my elevated response to the world around me.

However many holy words you read,
However many you speak,
What good will they do you
if you do not act upon them?
~ Buddha

The greater good from the U.S. withdrawal is already unfolding – for one thing, more people are stepping into positive action. There is a growing realization that progressive action must come from us – the collective “we” who seek a healthy planet to live on and to pass on to future generations. Something has been unleashed, or if you will, awakened. Something that represents a greater good. The world is seeing that a healthy planet is not automatically theirs and that large institutions cannot be expected to work toward this goal if it does not increase their bottom line or meet their political goals. People from state and local politicians to individual citizens are beginning to step forward. Awakening to reality is part of our good.

“Do all the good you can.

By all means you can.

In all the ways you can.

In all the places you can.

At all the times you can.

To all the people you can.

As long as you ever can.”

~ John Wesley

It is my view that those of us in New Thought have an additional responsibility beyond taking action. And within that responsibility is our greatest opportunity. That responsibility is to act wisely and compassionately, from a deep sense of spiritual realization; the opportunity is to have the experience of that spiritual realization. We must move beyond the fear of humanity’s demise and stand in a greater revealed Truth. We utilize the challenges of life as keys to unlock ever greater levels of wisdom and compassion within ourselves, and we bring these to bear on those challenges. We do so with humility, emotional and spiritual intelligence, and from the realization that the essence of who and what we are is eternal.

 “We believe that when the human mind, individually and collectively, needs a new truth, out of the necessity of the desire comes the truth it needs. Everything we know in philosophy and science proves it. Out of the desire for a greater good come ways and means for creating the greater good; and if every person made a demand upon Intelligence for the solution to the present world problems, through the minds of those people who are our national leaders would come an adequate and happy solution. That is in line with what we know about the way Life works.”  

~ Ernest Holmes

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

cbccoverkindle

WHEN ACTION IS NO LONGER A CHOICE. THE THEOLOGY OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER AND NEW THOUGHT SOCIAL ACTION.

“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak.

Christians are doing too little to make these points clear . . .

Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

You cannot read Dietrich Bonhoeffer (LINK) and remain comfortable in your inaction. One of the most profound theologians of the 20th Century, he died in a concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 39. His was a time of transition – Germany between the World Wars, where he saw the moral degradation of his society and the combination of inaction and complicity by his church. He became one of the great moral voices of his time, calling those of his faith tradition, Christianity, to step up their game, spiritually, morally, and actively. He escaped to the U.S., only to return to Germany at the height of the war – he saw this as a moral duty.

Bonhoeffer 2

Bonhoeffer

Insert New Thought in place of Christianity in the quote above and you get my point about moral clarity. For a relatively young faith tradition, we in the various branches of NewThought seem to have some calcified belief systems in place. Discussions about social justice and taking principled positions which may be political controversial often bring into question the “right” of a spiritual organization or the leadership of a spiritual community to take stands or request action beyond thoughts and prayers.

It is my belief that our failure to develop a culture of clarity around issues relating to social justice and well-being, and to translate that clarity into actions which become elemental to how we make our presence known, is a reason for the stagnation of our movement. We are too much talk, much of it inconsistent, and too little action.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here, Bonhoeffer reminds us that there is no such thing as inaction. I am reminded of the great New Thought teacher, Raymond Charles Barker (LINK), who called indecision a decision to fail” in his classic book, THE POWER OF DECISION (LINK). Is Bonhoeffer’s statement above any different in meaning or clarity from Dr. Barker’s? The essence of the matter is that when we live only in our mind and do not engage with the world to bring our principles to light, we are, essentially, acting in opposition to our spiritual principles. We are keeping our principles hidden at great cost to those who would benefit by their expression, and possibly, at the cost of a more just society overall.

“The ultimate test for a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer - Dietrich

We in New Thought often stress cause and effect, saying little about morality. Yet we are guided by principles, mainly love, wisdom, and compassion, from which our society’s moral values arise. For us to do affirmative prayers (Spiritual Mind Treatments) for the world is certainly a powerful way to activate cause; but if this is all we do, expecting others to arise and carry out the effects of our prayers in the world, are we being honest with ourselves about how the creative process works?

In other words, can we seek to elevate ourselves above the chaos of acting in the world, do our affirmative prayers, and await a positive outcome? Isn’t that what spiritual bypass is? Carl Jung has a statement about this:

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. they will practice (sic) Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has gradually turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come. Therefore, let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth – the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better!”

~ C. G. Jung. Collected Works, Vol 12

Sitting on your prayer mat or meditation cushion while exploring the spiritual practices of the world and never leaving that cocoon of safety, is a form of spiritual malpractice. It is a way of avoiding the work of the soul.

I serve on the Centers for Spiritual Living Committee on Spiritually Motivated Social Action. Our role is to assist the organization and local member communities to understand the guiding principles from our Organizational Design Model (ODM) and to apply them where appropriate in making statements and taking actions relating to social justice. Those who serve on this committee are very sensitive to the viewpoints for and against organizationally or local community-sponsored actions (and even statements). Again, I cannot speak for the dynamics relating to this in Unity – perhaps someone can in the comments section.

Some feel that as Religious Scientists, we should not be telling anyone what to do or how to live their lives; and certainly, not have organizational positions or actions. That should be up to each individual. This is a viewpoint that very likely would have been nearly universal in the movement for most of the 20th Century.

But times, and worldviews, have changed. In the originating documents which formed the basis for the Centers for Spiritual Living in 2011/12, the ODM contained values relating to being active in spiritually motivated social justice issues and causes. Here is some of the ODM language, which won over 98% of the vote at that time:

From Section Two – Our Global Vision: We envision a world where personal responsibility joins with social conscience in every area of the political, corporate, academic, and social sectors, providing sustainable structures to further the emerging global consciousness.

8.12.2. Cultural/Social Issues: CSL and its Member Communities are spiritual in nature; however, there may be a call for our principles to be expressed in contexts wider than one’s personal life and to be applied to collective and global issues.

To add a little Bonhoeffer gem here:

“We are not simply to bandage the wounds of the victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I, for one, am very tired of this so-called “debate.” Those who wish to operate from the worldview of the last century are welcome to do so, however, they might at least acknowledge that the issue is settled as far as the Centers for Spiritual Living is concerned. I am more interested in becoming an effective actor in the world, using my New Thought principles to guide me in making a difference. I am interested in speaking out against the regressive politics that currently dominate the US political landscape. I want to be a positive, and loud voice for good.

“Sometimes we just need a firm kick in the pants. An unsmiling expectation that if we mean all these wonderful things we talk about and sing about, then let’s see something to prove it.”

 ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let my voice be clear and compassionate, my actions timely and effective, and let all be guided by the principles of the great New Thought teachers. I want to do so from a deep realization of those principles (LINK). Otherwise, what is the point?

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 4

How to Create a Welcoming Atmosphere for Deep Spirituality in a Spiritual Community

 Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“The best place to start on these complex initiatives is to get to the bottom, to the deepest tectonic plates that grind and gravitate from the past, shape and structure the present, and extend their stress fractures well into the future. All this happens in spite of our very best efforts on the surface. Until we go deep with major repair and realignment technologies, each succeeding generation will sing: ‘All we are say-ing is give peace a chance.’”

~ Phyllis Philomena Blees, President, Peace Through Commerce, Inc.

If you have read this series of posts (LINK), and agree there is value in having depth of spiritual awareness, practices, and realization in your spiritual community, you might be asking, how do I promote this? That is the subject of this final post in the series.

FIRST, LEADERSHIP

“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that can be either as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

~ Parker Palmer

 Spiritual Leadership is the essential element in the development of the atmosphere of a spiritual community. Leader(s) do this in a variety of ways. First and foremost, by being an example of the consciousness of sacred calling and personal mastery. This does not mean having no issues or knowing how to do everything. It means that one has clearly prepared in consciousness for the role; that one is a living example of the application of the teaching.

A second very important element is the setting of expectations. Are attendees encouraged to engage in deep spirituality? Are they consciously directed toward attending spiritual classes, engaging in spiritual conversations, and doing rigorous daily spiritual practices? This may seem elemental, and yet, I have seen many spiritual communities where little or nothing is expected of those who attend. Instead, there is a constant begging for donations, volunteering, class attendance, etc.

I swear, if I hear one more Sunday announcement like this, I will SCREAM:

This Wednesday’s Midweek Service features Rev. (not the spiritual leader) speaking on “Your Inner Power.” Please come out and support Rev. (not the spiritual leader).

How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) supporting those who attend?

How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) being known for delivering such amazing talks that you can’t keep the crowds small even if you charge admission and have a dress code? How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) being known for such great depth and gravitas that she or he draws those who seek deep spirituality with ease? How about we stop apologizing, in effect, for letting this person speak, and find someone who has something to say? Spiritual Leader – why are you allowing this to happen in your spiritual community? Rant over.

SECOND, LEADERSHIP MUST BE EVOLUTIONARY

‎”I am personally convinced that one person can be a Change Catalyst, a ‘Transformer’ in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a Transforming Leader.”

~ Stephen Covey

Leadership is the key to the atmosphere and experience of spiritual community – not 100% of it, but the most significant part. And leadership in today’s world of spirituality needs to be evolutionary. That means that the leader(s) understands psychological and cultural development; recognizes that there are several developmental levels present in any group and that everyone is on a developmental pathwayemotionally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. It also means that leaders are constantly in the business of developing leadership qualities in their students.

If this is so (and it is), is the process of teaching students in your spiritual community based upon the evolutionary developmental nature of learning? Or is everyone treated the same in every class; anyone can take any class at any point in their personal development? Is curriculum design and structure based on past, limited understanding of personal and cultural development? Or is there a deep understanding of the evolutionary nature of emergence?

“The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Naturally, this need to have an evolutionary consciousness is in addition to having the talent to speak, teach, counsel, organize, manage, and lead. It is in addition to financial savvy, conducting great meetings, doing some conflict management, knowing how to dress and to be on time. All of this is necessary as well. However, if the leader is not coming from a deep understanding of evolutionary and developmental perspectives, and has not done her own deep work, the following will be true:

“An elemental law of psychology confirms that what is not faced in the developmental tasks of the parent will be visited upon the child. So it is true that what is not faced by corporate or collective leadership will be carried as a problem by the employees or members.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian Analyst

I strongly suggest that competent evolutionary leadership is the key to successful spiritual community in the post-postmodern world in which we currently live. Although it is NOT a substitute for competencies in other areas of spiritual leadership.

Leadership woman

That said, we also need to recognize that some come into spiritual leadership unprepared or needing greater emotional and spiritual maturity, or who experience setbacks or burnout (LINK). While this is not the topic of this post (see my book LINK for more on this), it is something which both local spiritual communities and spiritual organizations need to give serious attention.

THIRD, A PATH TO DEEP SPIRITUALITY.

Does your spiritual community have a clear pathway for those who desire to study, practice, and live their spirituality deeply? Those centered in the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence (LINK) on the spiral, may see this as elitism or labeling – remember the high value that Green places on egalitarianism. We need to see that everyone will not be interested in or have the aptitude for deep spiritual study, practice, and realization; and if we do not serve those who are, the entire spiritual community will suffer – it will have no core of deeply spiritual members to positively affect the vibration of the whole community. I think you know what I mean by that.

Deep spirituality from a developmental standpoint, helps one develop empathy – the capacity to experience a true sense of Oneness with others. Empathy is realized through an evolutionary process of awakening within each person, which must include deep psychological and spiritual work. Empathy is the important attribute to harmony in spiritual community. When empathy exists, truth can be spoken into a field of emotionally and spiritually intelligent receptivity. Things are not taken personally because the sense of feeling diminished has been healed.

“You have to do the work to develop real empathy. There’s a cost to evolving: if you want your soul to cross the line, there’s no way around emotional work. Face that deep pain, and you gain tremendous compassion for yourself. You feel compassion for those who have hurt you because they were hurt themselves. To really make yourself available to consciously create a new future, you have to do that work.”

~ Bruce Sanguin

New Thought spiritual leaders are in the business of developing spiritually realized beings. In the center where I took classes, the dividing line of sorts was practitioner class. One did not have to desire to become a licensed practitioner to take that class, but one did have an in-depth interview with the spiritual leader to get into the class. Those who indicated a strong desire to deepen their spiritual awareness and practices, and who already had a regular spiritual practice and worked with a practitioner were allowed into the class. Many of those dropped out as the class went along, due to the rigor of high expectations (there were other classes for them to take). But it was a breeding ground, if you will, for deep spiritual realization. And it worked pretty well.

 Baby reading Deepak

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 3

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

~ Franz Kafka, Diaries

If we are going to change our results in life, we must change our relationship with Source – our Inner Genius that is an individualized expression of the Universal Intelligence. Nothing is being withheld from us – our good lies in wait for us to evolve and develop to the point that we become welcoming conduits for its expression. If our current experience of life falls short of the ideal possibilities, then we have work to do – and we all have work to do.

Deep calls unto us – calling us to awaken to a greater Truth and to become welcoming conduits through which It can express fully. When enough of us have done this, the experience of humanity will be transformed. This series speaks to this idea in the context of committing to deeper spiritual practice and psychological development, so that we express more and more of our spiritual potential.

“People decide to live a spiritual life, they think it’s going to be all flower petals and incense; but really it’s much more like ‘I can’t eat my dinner because I’ve just learned something upsetting about myself.’”

~ David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Transcending the Mind

 This kind of deep spirituality involves the pain of self-discovery, as David Hawkins notes. As we arrive at each discovery, we inhabit our current levels of awareness and development, which determine our experience of the discovery. Pain and sadness are often on the pathway of spiritual awakening and deepening. Going deep is never easy for us. Where we are developmentally on the spiral will have a lot to do with whether and how we continue forward.

VMEMEs Simplified

“What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

~ Clare Graves

Spiral Dynamics™(LINK) shows us how the evolution of human consciousness (as complexity of thought and evolving values systems) creates the dynamics of our development. As we move up the spiral (assuming more complex external living conditions are present), we can display our values constructively or destructively. Each level on the spiral can be expressed in healthy or unhealthy ways. The depth and consistency of spiritual practices has a significant effect on this process.

Every spiritual community has several Levels of Existence (vMEMEs) present. It may be two or six. The levels generate dynamics within themselves and with other levels. The degree to which the levels present are healthy or unhealthy generate additional dynamics – it can get very complicated. When spiritual leaders fail to understand the nature of these dynamics and levels of existence, they make assumptions based on inadequate understanding – and often exaggerate or misdiagnose the problems and opportunities present.

The greater the degree of surface-level spirituality, the greater the degree of dysfunction present. We must create a healthy pathway for those at different vMEMEs to evolve and to go deeper within our spiritual communities, or we miss so many opportunities for spiritual realization.

“While genes evolve slowly, the decision systems formed by vMEMEs are always on the move. vMEMEs can be so dominant they seem like archetypes and are easily misinterpreted as ‘types’ of people. When several are in harmony, vMEMEs resonate like the notes in a musical chord. However, vMEMEs in conflict lead to troubled individuals, dysfunctional families, corporate malaise, fractured churches, and civilizations in decline and fall. Since they are ‘alive,’ vMEMEs can ebb and flow, intensify and soften like a string of Christmas tree lights on a dimmer. Several different ones may line up in support of a specific issue, idea, or project because they share the values contents. At other times, people with essentially the same vMEME decision-making frameworks may disagree violently over details of beliefs and what is ‘the good,’ degenerating into holy and un-civil war.”

~ Don Beck & Christopher Cowan, SPIRAL DYNAMICS

 While understanding the vMEMEs present is not a “magic solution,” it can lead to a greater awareness of the issues and dynamics at hand and how they are given meaning within the community. New Thought teachings are about transformation and change. Most people are evolving along the spiral all the time, and there are some common values emerging along the way. Also, levels alternate between individual and communal values systems – which has a significant effect on how we show up, both in their own spiritual growth and in spiritual community.

Each of the 1st Tier vMEMEs has its own positives and negatives when it comes to the issues of personal spiritual development, spiritual community, and the interplay of the two. As I have noted before (LINK) and in my book (LINK), the main vMEMEs or Levels of Existence present in New Thought spiritual community are Traditionalist-Blue, Modernist-Orange, and Postmodernist-Green. 2nd Tier, Integral-Yellow may also be present in small numbers. Lower levels on the spiral, Beige, Purple, and Red influence how higher levels show up as well, but tend not to be dominant values systems in modern communities.

Church - Blue-Orange-Green

Blue, in its healthy expression is likely to engage in deep practice if that is what the relevant authority says it should do. Unhealthy Blue may rebel (expressing Red) or follow a counter-authority. Healthy Orange will engage in deep practice if it is seen by them as being personally beneficial – remember, those centered at Orange are all about themselves. Unhealthy Orange will run roughshod over others and show up as competitive in a toxic sense. Healthy Green will seek an egalitarian and communal approach to practices, and will go deep if there are enough members of the community willing to participate, so long as it does not appear that others are being left out against their will. Unhealthy Green may demand deep practice of others, but find ways to avoid it themselves; they may also express judgmental attitudes toward others. Also at Green, there is a reawakening of Tribal-Purple, with its love of ritual and spirituality based on symbolism.

Face - stressed-out

The Frustration of Not Understanding Cultural Evolutionary Dynamics

Spiritual leaders may find themselves wondering how to organize these disparate values systems into something cohesive – in fact, this is a major challenge for spiritual leadership. Modern progressive spirituality, such as New Thought, is not exempt from this issue. The days when Traditionalist-Blue thinking dominated are gone, except in fundamentalist communities – meaning that people will not automatically obey authority any more (have you noticed?). Orange wants their needs met or they leave; Green insists that leaders ensure that everyone feels good about everything (and is anti-hierarchical as well, so suspicious of authority). Orange wants you to tell it like it is and Green wants you to tell it so no one gets upset.

“The growth of multiculturalism and globalization brings us rising levels of complexity and nuance. The ability to hold tension is absolutely essential. Fundamentalism—strict adherence to one’s view of the world as the only right way—is essentially a refusal to live in tension.”

~ David Livermore

I include a Spiral Dynamics view here because it can bring a greater depth to our overall understanding of the need for a deeper approach to spiritual growth, and the dynamic tensions involved both in our personal growth and in our spiritual communities. It contains opportunities for greater understanding of the dynamic processes affecting us as we develop. When we apply ourselves more fully to our practices, we reveal more of our inner splendor and genius, we are more fulfilled personally, and a greater contributor to all of humanity.

 

In Part 4 of the series, I will explore ways to create greater opportunities for deep spirituality in New Thought spiritual communities.

Beautiful Garden

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 2

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“I would be remiss if I did not sound a warning concerning the dangers associated with a radical change of consciousness.”

~ June Singer, Jungian Analyst

 This series is looking at bringing greater depth to spiritual teachings in New Thought. I realize that not only will some have no interest in this topic, some may even find it superfluous. But such is life.

The journey to spiritual realization is one made over time. There are no short cuts – not in the sense that permanent transformation (deep change) can come easily. Time is an essential ingredient. Even when we have some cathartic experience, whether an “AHA moment” or a major life event, the resulting changes must be integrated deeply into the psyche over time in a mellowing process. The deeply conditioned self is very stable – it does not change easily or quickly. We may feel changed at depth after a powerful workshop, but how often does that change translate into a truly new direction in life?

“It’s hard to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Those of us who are students and teachers of New Thought ought to be especially cognizant of this – we are in it for the long haul, not the quick fix. Ask any long-time spiritual leader what percentage of her students have evidenced deep, lasting, transformative change in their lives. The numbers will be small. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

How many have done serious shadow work; how many have examined the depths of their psyches even to the point of recognizing their own destructive subconscious patterns? How many have proven this by showing a mastery of even the basics of living a life? How many exist in a space where all their energies must go toward physical, financial, and social survival? How many have little or no energy left for the pursuit of the inner life of the mystical domains, where spiritual realization must be cultivated? How many have even developed consistent patterns of positive thought and emotion, regardless of in what circumstances they find themselves?

“To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is – not the quick little excitement, but the real deep, life-filling bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Secret Teachings Image

Every great spiritual teaching has elements that are inaccessible to the average consciousness. As a single example, the opening of the Gospel of Thomas (LINK) refers to what follows as the secret teachings, which are only to be made available to those who are ready to hear them. The danger in exposing an unprepared mind to great spiritual teachings is that they will be misunderstood and misused. It was a duty of a spiritual teacher in these traditions to determine what the student was ready to receive, and to give him or her only that much. Spiritual awareness is a process, and everyone isn’t at the same level of readiness at any given point. When we fail to include this truth in designing and teaching spiritual curricula, we set people up for failure – or, at minimum, place unintended obstacles in their path to spiritual realization.

Our inner integrity is always there, fully intact, in our deepest self. We have buried it, to one degree or another, through the accretion of false and limited beliefs over our lives. Spiritual development involves the gradual removal of this layer, the false ideas of self, and the revealing of that buried inner integrity with the goal of bringing it fully into our lives. We remember who we really are over time when we do the work of spiritual realization with rigor and determination. But at the beginning, we are ignorant, we think that our false and limited beliefs are the truth, and we fail to thrive. We seek what does not serve us, we dwell in anger and depression, we resist our teachers (and good teachers are essential in this process) and deny our true nature.

“The ego wants containment and control. It is only the soul that wants meaning and mystery. In fact, that is how I can know whether it is my ego that is leading me or the ‘brightness and the Holy Spirit.’ If I have not found a way to hear and allow that deeper level of soul, I will use all my roles, my relationships, and even my religion to fortify my ego and my private agenda.”

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

We begin our spiritual journey directed by our ego – the self-created aspect of the psyche which supports our current belief system. The ego is not a bad thing – think of it as the skeleton of the psyche, it will support whatever our dominant beliefs are. Our work is not to eliminate or destroy the ego, but to create a belief system or consciousness that is enlightened. We need to learn how to delve into the deep subconscious and eliminate the fear-based beliefs, replacing them with Truth. Our spiritual teacher(s) must have mastered this in her own life, and mastered how to teach it – two different things. And there is the fact that most people are not really interested in this level of spiritual growth – those who will go deep are few in number.

“Very few people ever mature. It is enough if they flower and re-seed. That is all that nature requires of them. But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable (sic). There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness.”

~ John Steinbeck

If we are not changing, actually transforming over time, we are staying in place, maintaining the same belief systems while simply adding some spiritual-growth jargon to our vocabulary. The question of this blog post is – are New Thought organizations and spiritual leaders aiding and abetting this kind of spiritual malpractice? Or are they doing everything in their power to create environments where transformation of consciousness is not only likely, but expected? Or are they sacrificing serious students of deep change to serve a larger group interested only in surface change?

Chart - Comfort Zone

Spiritual leadership of spiritual communities is a complex undertaking. One must be concerned with any number of aspects of operation of a community organization. However, there must be a focus on developing core deep spiritual principles within those students who are willing to do the work. This not only perpetuates the teaching at a high level, but provides a significant spiritual influence on the entire community. Where mastery is taught, and emphasized, all benefit.

In Part 3 of this series, I will address how this shows up on the spiral (LINK), and give some guidance as to how to encourage a deeper approach to spiritual education (and in my book (LINK), I thoroughly examine this); but for now, let’s just say that currently we in New Thought tend to take a very egalitarian approach to our spiritual education – there is little, if any, rigor with regard to determining readiness for advanced materials, and, for the most part, our “professional-leveleducation has drifted more toward job preparation than to the development of significant levels of spiritual realization and psychological health. It may be time to expand our conversation.

Beautiful Flower Lotus

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 1

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

This series speaks to the issue of spiritual maturity and deep spiritual work. The contents are not meant to offend or intimidate anyone. My intention is to speak to a deeper level of spiritual realization. In most of the world’s spiritual traditions, some teachings were kept secret from anyone not ready to receive them in a healthy way. In our modern tradition, we put warning labels on things.

You cannot hope to grow spiritually unless you are prepared to change. Those changes may come in small ways to begin with, but as you move further and further into the new, they will become more drastic and vital. Sometimes it needs a complete upheaval to bring about a new way of life. But it is amazing how soon you can get used to change as long as you have the courage and conviction that the changes which are in place are all for the very best. Let perfection always be your aim. Keep stretching. Keep reaching up to the seemingly impossible. Keep growing in wisdom and understanding and never at any time be content to remain static. There is always something new and wonderful to discover in this life, so expand your consciousness and your imagination to make room for it. Keep open and receptive so you miss nothing.”

~ Eileen Caddy

How many of us are willing to be open and receptive to such transformational change? How many are willing to go beyond mere lip-service and to do the deep spiritual and psychological work of radical self-discovery in order to experience radical self-acceptance? If you were told how much deep inner work, emotional development, psychic pain, and time would be required to achieve spiritual realization and master the important aspects of your life the first time you visited a New Thought spiritual community, would you come back a second time?

The Easter/Passover season is a good time to reflect on this question, as the deeper meaning of this time is transformation, or massive change. See my previous post on Holy Week (LINK) for more detail on this.

Cartoon - You Have to WANT to Change

While learning how to think affirmatively is an essential step in your spiritual growth, it is but one of many steps. Each of us carries shadow aspects (LINK) which we have been accumulating since our infancy, and these aspects have been repressed into our subconscious. We are not directly aware of them, but they are active in our lives – they affect our emotions, our worldviews, and our decision-making. We project these aspects onto others automatically and unconsciously. Ultimately, they form a barrier to further spiritual growth, as we develop much of our personalities in such a way as to avoid conscious awareness of our repressed selves.

Poster - Jung - Shadow

“Any serious spiritual work brings up the shadow, the rejected parts of your own psyche, which have to be faced and accepted. It’s the process of inner purification. Other spiritual paths may focus on purification through diet or yoga or good living or correcting bad habits. Our particular Sufi path has a very strong psychological element, and the purification is analogous to Jung’s ‘shadow work’ in which the rejected parts of one’s psyche come to the surface to be confronted, loved and accepted. This begins the process of transformation. As Jung said, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ Then he humorously added, ‘The latter process, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.’”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan Lee

A typical scenario can look like this: someone enters a New Thought spiritual community and learns how to think affirmatively, to visualize, to mediate. They practice these techniques and notice that the circumstances of their life improve. They continue for some time at this, taking classes, reading and so forth; and there is the benefit of being in spiritual community as well. After a year to 18 months, however, they notice that they have hit a wall in their growth – negativity seems unmoved by their efforts and spiritual growth appears to stop. What has happened is that they have used their newfound practices to attend to the aspects of their lives which were not bound by shadow aspects. But the shadow self remains untouched. Now the real work can begin.

Shadow Cartoon

The Shadow is Everything You Have Repressed About Yourself that did not fit your Idealized Self-Image

Unfortunately, this is the point where many give up, deciding that the teaching does not work. Some will leave, seeking guidance elsewhere; some will stay, but not pursue any deeper level of growth. Every spiritual community has long-term members who have not grown spiritually or psychologically since their first year or two of participation. Even more unfortunately, many New Thought spiritual leaders fail to guide their students through this inevitable stage of development. You don’t hear about this at Sunday services.

“You seem to harbor a deep negativity towards negativity, as something not to face but something to ignore.”

~ John Hogue

We get nowhere by ignoring the negativity in our lives. Likewise, we get nowhere by dwelling on the negativity in our lives. We only get somewhere when we begin the long journey toward replacing the negativity in our consciousness with something more positive. Some of this work is done at the surface level – by thinking more positively; but much of it is done by digging down deep into the psyche to root out the unconscious patterns we have developed, patterns which are largely immune to the occasional positive thought, or even to steady positive thinking that does not address them. Our teacher(s) can help guide us to this realization, but they cannot do the work for us.

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

Each of us must do our own inner work – once we learn how. And as we move forward in our spiritual growth, we may learn additional truths and tools to use. The wise teacher is one who assists the student in learning and using the appropriate level of spiritual teachings and spiritual tools. Our developmental growth must go in a certain order. We may be able to absorb a great deal of information intellectually very quickly, but our practice must follow a more deliberate path. The psyche is not the intellect; it has different rules, demands different approaches. Where intellectual learning is the absorption of information and the occasional “AHA moment,” the psyche is moved forward by emotional growth and deep practice – in a nonlinear manner.

“I have always believed myself to be possessed of two souls, one that lives on the surface of life, pleasing and pleased; the other as deep and as unfathomable as the ocean; a mystery to me and all who know me.”

~ Adah Isaacs Menken, 1862

The purpose of all these efforts toward spiritual growth is to open ourselves to our divine heritagelove, compassion, and meaning. This divine heritage lies just beyond the obstacles we have placed in our psyches during our lives – most unconsciously and unwittingly; but there they are. When we realize more of this heritage, we are ready to do the serious work of engaged spirituality to create The Beloved Community.

In part 2 of this series, we will further explore the way forward if we are to be healed at depth. And, while all in good fun, that warning label will still apply.

Beautiful Forest Stream Scene

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)