WE ARE GRIEVING – AND WE ARE CALLED TO ACTION

“His grief he will not forget; but it will not darken his heart, it will teach him wisdom.”

~ J.R.R. Tolkein

“Lord, we have lost so much this year. John Lewis was a blow. Chadwick Boseman was a gut punch. Nearly 200,000 souls have gone into the ether. Losing Ruth Bader Ginsburg just fills the whole atmosphere with despair. Let’s fight it though and honor these great souls by our actions.”

~ Joy Reid, MSNBC Host

We are grieving, so many of us. The families and friends of over 200,000 who have died from COVID19 or its complications grieve, often without benefit of last visits or funerals. Those who value civil rights grieve the loss of John Lewis and Chadwick Boseman among others, while Black Lives Matter and modern civil rights efforts and protesters are vilified by so many Americans. Those who value liberal democracy (LINK) are grieving the ruthless power grabs of the current US administration and the rise of authoritarian leadership in several western democracies.

And we each have our own losses to grieve. Personal losses in our own families, losses of jobs and livelihoods, losses of the ability to move about and connect freely, losses of in-person spiritual community, and more. I have written about grieving before (LINK) (LINK), but that was about personal grieving – the United States is in grieving now as a nation. Not everyone, of course. Some are in denial of what is unfolding, some support it blindly, and others have tuned out. But if you are paying attention, and your have even a small degree of empathy, you are grieving – whether you know it or not.

“Failures to grieve loss and disappointment, openly, honestly, will rise again, as unbidden ghosts from their untimely burial, through depression, or as projection onto objects of compelling, delusive desire, or through captivation by the mindless distractions of our time.”

~ James Hollis

We grieve what is lost, or what we are in the process of losing. We grieve the dead, and the seriously ill. We grieve the loss of innocence, as we are made aware of the degree of oppression of so many in our “free country.” We grieve the fact that movements like Black Lives Matter, LGBTQIA+, and #MeToo are necessary in our society. We grieve for the children in cages near our border and for their displaced families; we grieve the loss of a sense of living in a compassionate nation.

If we are aware of all of these things and do not grieve, then we are caught in a spiral of denial and our development is arrested, if not reversed. Our national obsessions with blind consumerism and the cult of celebrity are examples of the kinds of mindless distractions of our time, to which James Hollis refers in the quote above.

“Every one of us must undertake an apprenticeship with sorrow. We must learn the art and craft of grief, discover the profound ways it ripens and deepens us. While grief is an intense emotion, it is also a skill we develop through a prolonged walk with loss.”

~ Francis Weller

When we allow ourselves to grieve, we give ourselves the opportunity to emerge from that process with a healing. We may still be broken in some way, but the mended place can ultimately be stronger than before. When we allow ourselves to grieve, and each of us grieves differently, we process loss, betrayal, and sadness into something new – an alchemy of healing (LINK) emerges and we are lifted up into a new stage of growth.

“True maturation on the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds; our grief… unfulfilled longing, sorrow that we have stored up during the course of our lives. Until we are able to bring awareness to our old wounds, we find ourselves repeating their patterns of unfulfilled desire, anger, and confusion over and over again. We heal through a systematic spiritual practice.”

~ Jack Kornfield

Now is the time to grieve, for loss is upon us. In addition to the normal losses of any life, the year 2020 seems to be calling us out for all that we have failed to do as a people in the past. We are driven by events which can no longer be avoided but must be managed and ultimately transmuted into new ways of being. Our relationships with our planet and our fellow humans must change. We are losing much in this process – some of it real, some imagined or fantasized – but loss it is.

We are called to come to the realization that we are not mere actors in this drama of life, we are the authors of our individual and collective experiences. And while we cannot control others, we can work to help influence others to realize the value of coexistence in peace and with equal measures of liberty and accountability. We have the tools of great teachings to use – let us use them wisely, compassionately, and with great passion and power. We are called to courage, but not a courage which denies our need to grieve.

“Do we have the courage to hold the grief that comes with the end of a story? You can only hold the beginning if you are prepared to also hold the grief for what is over, otherwise a certain maturity is lacking. At this time we are called upon to recognize the bigger story—which is not the story of supermarkets, not the story of politicians, not even the story of religious fanatics—but the story of the earth at this time.”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

Image c Christophe Dessaigne

HEALING IS NOT LINEAR – IT IS ALCHEMICAL

New Thought teachings are about healing. If that is so, I often wonder at how much is unhealed in us, how we struggle with basic things, resist change, hold grudges, too often loathe ourselves, and more. Why do our spiritual communities struggle to survive, rarely thriving with attendance and financial support? Why are we not magnets for the many who seek healing in their own lives, families, communities, and nations?

Perhaps, we have not learned what healing is, much less how to teach it. We have nibbled around the edges, celebrating getting parking spaces or buying a new car (with only 5-7 years of payments!), or manifesting relationships which ultimately do not work. We attempt to affirm things we do not wish to experience away, refusing to look at the negative side of ourselves and manifesting denial. Can we truly say that we are any more “successful” in these areas than others who do not know about our teachings?

“I marvel at the overwhelming power of the unconscious and, at the same time, the intensity of its drive toward healing.”

~ Marion Woodman

“Christ healed the blind, the halt, the palsied, and the leprous. But the fool He could not cure.”

~ Khalil Gibran

And is the issue one of an insufficient understanding of Principle, or of insufficient or incompetent practice? Or both? Or perhaps it is one of refusing to see suffering as an inevitable part of life, refusing to confront what we fear; or coming to believe that if there is something wrong in my life there is something wrong with me?

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don’t really get ‘solved.’ They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief and for relief, room for misery and for joy.” 

~ Pema Chödrön

Pema writes here of a spaciousness in consciousness – a willingness to expand our perspective, allowing ourselves to embrace a wider variety of experience, sensation, and emotion. When we shut ourselves off to pain, we effectively decide that we are not up to being fully human. We limit our ability to presence fully – to be present to the ups and downs of life while recognizing that our essential center will hold. This is a necessary quality to possess if one is to live among other humans, for have no doubts, other humans WILL let you down from time to time; just as you will let yourself down from time to time. The essential center – the sense of empowerment linked to a realization of one’s own divine nature – is what must be realized. It does not need to be developed, nor strengthened, for it is always fully present. It does, however, need to be realized, which we can do with spiritual practice and deep self-examination.

The realization of this essential center and the ability to live from a knowing that it is always present, can be seen in higher levels of emotional and spiritual intelligence. Higher levels of these intelligences lift you into the realm of alchemy – the realm of the Magician archetype. Here, healing is the natural order of the day, for when one fully trusts the essential center, one can face any degree of pain, knowing that healing is the alchemical transformation of consciousness via thought and emotion.

“Emotional intelligence is about so much more than recognizing, naming, honoring, feeling and expressing your authentic emotions. It also consists of alchemizing and transmuting them, releasing the heart wall, healing the emotional body and developing emotional regulation skills.”

~ Mary Amhasnaa

Emotional and Spiritual Intelligence (EQ & SQ) give us the capacity to expand and grow out of the need for certainty and predictability in ourselves and in the world around us. If we are to master ourselves and live fully in the world in which we find ourselves, we must deal with what has, up until now, been too difficult to look at – our past, our shadows, our denied and fragmented selves. There is also a call to do this collectively – to see how our larger society has systemically harmed so many of its members. This collective call can only be truly answered by those who have done their own work of self-mastery. Otherwise, there is insufficient strength – not enough connection to the essential center – to do the heavy lifting of transforming society.

This matters now because we are collectively in a time of great turmoil. The collective consciousness of humanity seems to be ready for a shift and what has been must be replaced by what is newly emerging. Any resistance to this will be painful, and those without a sound realization of their essential center are in for a very rough time. Any “unfinished business” within will inhibit one’s availability to transformation.

“True maturation on the spiritual path requires that we discover the depth of our wounds; our grief… unfulfilled longing, sorrow that we have stored up during the course of our lives. Until we are able to bring awareness to our old wounds, we find ourselves repeating their patterns of unfulfilled desire, anger, and confusion over and over again. We heal through a systematic spiritual practice.”

~ Jack Kornfield

We heal through a systemic spiritual practice, but we must also become radically self-honest. We must do the work of discovering what we have repressed about ourselves and our relationships and accepting and reintegrating these aspects into a healthy version of ourselves. This work cannot be done only by affirming what we desire. We must also look into our own darkness, because if we do not, we can only skim the surface of what is possible – parking spaces instead of true mastery.

“To experience some healing within ourselves, and to contribute healing to the world, we are summoned to wade through the muck from time to time. Where we do not go willingly, sooner or later we will be dragged.”

~ James Hollis, Ph.D., Jungian analyst

“Carl Jung said that if you find the psychic wound in an individual or a people, there you also find their path to consciousness. For it is in the healing of our psychic wounds that we come to know ourselves.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

Throughout this process, our souls yearn to have healing expressed throughout our being. While we have often been conditioned to ignore these yearnings, they have always been there. When we stop resisting, the healing energy is more available to us and we can establish a connection with that essential center. It is in being willing to explore our pain centers that we open doors to deep healing, doors which we may have closed earlier in life.

Nothing short of radical self-honestly will do today. We are collectively challenged to co-create a more equitable, compassionate, and sustainable society and the resistance to this happening is significant. Our woundedness and repressed selves keeps us afraid of deep change. Only by healing at depth can you participate in this unfolding and evolving process from a place of personal integrity and mastery. The path of healing is uneven, difficult, exhilarating, and never ending.

“You can be healing and still: — triggered — afraid — emotionally closed-off — unclear of which path to take next — tender Healing is not perfection, it’s small steps and progress toward becoming you again. Journey with grace through the process.”

~ Lalah Delia

I focus on the yearnings of my soul for healing. I work to bring myself into alignment with my soul’s agenda – to be a fully authentic version of myself, feel comfortable in my own skin, expand to allow the full range of life’s experiences and emotions, and resonate with the fullness of my essential center. I am a match for this world.

“SELF-HEALING MUST COME FIRST OF ALL”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

My Metaphysical Psychology Program Course, which begins on Sept 12th, is designed to bring you into resonance with your essential center.

If you are interested, email me at JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com

Also – this wonderful conference is happening ONLINE in October! Register now!

NEW THOUGHT EVOLUTIONARY – 5 YEARS ALONG

Five years ago today, the first post of this blog was published – link below. Since then, we have explored many aspects of spirituality, cultural evolution, and spiritual leadership. It is my deep hope that you, dear reader, have found and continue to find value here as you follow the path of your own spiritual journey.

First Post – August 24, 2015 (LINK)

I am very grateful to those who follow this blog regularly, and to those who have taken the time to comment on the various posts over these years. We have had over 102,000 visits!

We find ourselves in times which bring us great challenges. Developing a firm spiritual support system has never been more important. Only through spiritual poise and discernment can we successfully transverse the waves of information and emotional challenges we face. I hope to continue to serve as something of a guide to these times if you are willing to come along for the journey, all the better.

“The answer is never the answer. What’s really interesting is the mystery. If you seek the mystery instead of the answer, you’ll always be seeking. I’ve never seen anybody really find the answer. They think they have, so they stop thinking. But the job is to seek mystery, evoke mystery, plant a garden in which strange plants grow and mysteries bloom. The need for mystery is greater than the need for an answer.”

~ Ken Kesey

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

REMINDER: My 2020-2021 Metaphysical Psychology Program begins soon! There is an information call Saturday August 28th. Email me at JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com if you want to receive a link to that call plus additional information about the course.

ARE NEW THOUGHT PRINCIPLES HOLDING US BACK – OR ARE WE USING THEM TOO SPARINGLY?

THERE IS A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT AT THE END OF THIS POST!

“If you live in a world where you are constantly replaying the past, you can never imagine a world that has not yet existed.”

~ Adam Curtis

In my last post (LINK) I described how a return to some of the basic principles and practices of New Thought can be very helpful in dealing with the pressure, stress, and frustration of the issues facing us. In this post, I suggest that if we are to transcend the challenges we face, we may have to take those principles and practices to a deeper level.

With all that is happening now – the pandemic, growing unemployment, Black Lives Matter (BLM) protests, the conflicted mess of US politics with a coming election, and the elephant in the room: Climate Crisis looming and still getting worse. We are in a time of VUCA challenges – Volatility – Uncertainty – Complexity – Ambiguity.

We are experiencing high amounts of stress. Michelle Obama announced that she is suffering from “low grade depression” (LINK) as a result of all that is happening in the US. As a demonstration of how things are in US society, she is immediately supported by liberals and vilified by conservatives. Such is our current reality.

The disastrous US national response to the COVID-19 pandemic is just one example of the results of electing people to office who lack the capacity for truly complex thinking and for compassion. The rising up of many in protest speaks to a desire to heal the nation – but then many get caught up in fear-based responses. Can you envision Moses, returning from Mount Sinai with the tablets, coming upon a scene such as the one currently playing out in the United States?

 

Imagine instead if this were how we collectively approached electing leaders:

“More important than any other quality in our politicians we must demand psychological illumination, psychological awareness, because otherwise we get people sparring with their own shadows. Otherwise you’ll get nations, as we had in 1939, like the Germans projecting their shadows onto the Jews, and then when they were eliminating the Jews, onto the Poles and God knows what else.”

~Sir Laurens van der Post, Matter of Heart

One might think that the application of New Thought principles would lead to a clear voice for the kind of leadership mentioned above. However, within our New Thought community, I am seeing a lot of “stress fractures” among some folks on social media and at centers where I have guest spoken and done Q&A – a broad acceptance of conspiracy theories by some, a withdrawal from anything “negative” by others. On the positive side, we are also seeing many who seek some clarification/revision of NT principles to allow for a recognition of a kind of “victimhood” for oppressed people. None of this is particularly surprising, given the confluence of the pandemic with BLM and the woke/cancel culture movements. And it is necessary to acknowledge the oppression and harm that so many have suffered in our society. Without that acceptance, we will not be able to move toward healing, reconciliation, and true equality and inclusion.

What I see lacking in the moment are a sufficient number of leadership voices helping people through these perplexing times – finding ways to reinforce the basic principles of the Science of Mind and other NT teachings, while adding some nuances is increasingly important, I think. In these complex times, a simplistic grasp of Principle is inadequate. For some, ideas such as “it is all consciousness” and “you create your own reality” seem to include the false belief that this means a level playing field – that everyone is in an equal place when they become aware of how to think in more powerful, positive, and effective ways. Such thinking ignores the lived experiences of people. It also carries with it a sense of supremacy (white/male/straight) and privilege with the accompanying conscious and unconscious biases leading to vastly inaccurate assumptions.

“. . .And I must say tonight that a riot is the language of the unheard. And what is it America has failed to hear? It has failed to hear that the plight of the negro poor has worsened over the last twelve or fifteen years. It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr. 

The fact that this 40-year-old statement by Dr. King is still valid, that the progress sought is still largely unrealized, speaks to the resistance of white culture to putting the necessary effort into bringing about justice and humanity for all. And this failure is not limited to those outside of the New Thought movement. Our members who are of color have not experienced a full sense of inclusion historically. While we may be more open to exploring this issue than some others, we have much work to do, both within our spiritual communities, and without in the larger communities where we live and work.

“Our spirituality should not infantilize us or make us whitewash evil. Spiritual seekers should be the biggest grownups in the room.”

~ Marianne Williamson

What is required as complexity increases and the responses from those unready or unwilling to adapt become more destructive, is an increase in emotional and spiritual intelligence (EQ – LINK) (SQ – LINK). This means developing our capacities to accept uncertainty, paradox, mystery, while staying grounded in the ability to act in the world around us. It means finding the inner strength to withstand the pressure and stress of living in this moment. It means increasing our abilities of (Discernment – LINK) so as to find the grains of truth in the onslaught of information and false claims coming at us every day – from advertising, to political punditry, to conspiracy theories.

“The bigger the context in which you can see your own life, the more informed your choices and actions are.”

~ Cindy Wigglesworth

Expecting the same level of consciousness with which you manifested a promotion, or a better car, or healed a minor illness to be adequate to what humanity collectively faces now is naïve at best. I call that “first plateau consciousness,” the level that many students of New Thought reach after a year or so of study and practice. It is a definite improvement over “ordinary consciousness,” when you don’t know how powerful thought can be, but a higher level of realization is needed today. We need to break free of the deeper limiting believes in our subconscious – the ones which are generally untouched by first plateau consciousness.

This is why unconscious biases including racism, sexism, ageism, and gender and sexual identity biases can continue to exist in our spiritual communities. These things tend to be beneath the awareness of those who hold them but are painfully obvious to the targets of these biases. Anything within your subconscious of which you are ashamed is very unlikely to be healed by first plateau consciousness.

“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

Higher levels exist, and your soul is yearning to experience them. These levels include growth in EQ & SQ along with deeper spiritual and self-realization. But they require deep personal work, which is always uncomfortable and often very painful. This is not the kind of thing that is healed in a weekend seminar or a short class, and certainly not in a single Zoom call. Higher consciousness requires commitment, diligent work and spiritual practices, and at least one, but more likely several guides who have traveled the pathway ahead of you.

We are called to rise up today. Before we can properly and effectively rise up in the world, we must first rise up within ourselves. We were born with everything we need, every shred of potential lies within us, much of it unrealized. It is time to rise up and realize more and more of that potential so that we can each give our unique gifts to co-create for all of humanity #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone.

You are needed.

You are essential.

You are ready to rise up.

And it is all within you.

To answer the question in the title of this post, our principles can never hold us back. They are timeless and limitless. What is holding us back is our resistance to going deeper, to delving into the discomfort of our repressed selves, creating a path to healing and to allowing our inner wisdom to come to the surface so that we can apply it for ourselves and for all of humanity.

“Real emergencies surface people with real leadership capacity. It is possible to become more clear, present, focused, and capable as the stress rises. If you are centered and clear, then act. If you are anxious, frantic, overwhelmed, or unclear…take a break and center yourself. Come back to action when you are clear and ready to act effectively.”

~ Daniel Schmachtenberger

 As always, your comments are welcomed in the comments section. Please feel free to share this post with others.

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

A SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT:

Once again I will be offering my Metaphysical Psychology course to a limited number of students for the coming year.

If you are interested, the email is below.

Mkting 1Mkting 2

HERE AND NOW – REMEMBER THE BASICS

Americans are dying

We cannot travel anywhere

Our infection rate is catastrophic

We have no coordination among states or our federal government. 

We are isolated. 

We are sick. 

We are the laughing stock of other countries. 

We are broken. 

This did not have to happen.

@SarahBCalif

I have not written a post for a while.

Like many, if not all, of you, I have been trying to process what is happening in the world currently, especially in the United States. As the words above illustrate, we are in a time of major challenges across a wide spectrum, from the pandemic, lockdown, and its health crisis; to the protests and government response; to rising warnings about climate change and ecosystem collapse – all subject to being misrepresented for ideological and economic reasons. Add the degree of political conflict and the ongoing issues of racism, sexism, gender bias, and classism to the list and you can see how this is both the result and secondary cause of a growing mental health crisis – with more and more people seeking solace in conspiracy theories and acting out in sometimes violent anti-social ways. Add to these things a Federal government which has no idea how to encourage higher social and cultural development while actually working to make some things worse.

One reason why I have not written a post for longer than usual is that I keep seeking some “bigger” wisdom: something more appropriate for these times. I do not want to retreat into platitudes or “feel-good” spirituality, because those seem somehow inadequate for the moment. As I write these words, my inner voice speaks up and gently reminds me that there is no big or small in Spirit. And, of course, that is true.

“There is One Mind, that Mind is God. That Mind is your Mind now. This Mind is always inspired with Confidence. It has no fears, no doubts, no uncertainties. God in you leads, directs and governs you at all times. The Spirit is never hurried, never worried, never afraid. Infinite happiness and Joy belong to the eternal Spirit in which you move and have your Being.”

~ Ernest Holmes audio recording on Confidence

We are clearly in a time of great upheaval, a turbulent time of change for human societies. When added to the challenges of everyday life, it can seem to be insurmountable. Big can seem very big, indeed.

“There is a longing that burns at the root of spiritual practice. This is the fire that fuels your journey. The romantic suffering you pretend to have grown out of, that remains coiled like a serpent beneath the veneer of maturity. You have studied the sacred texts. You know that separation from your divine source is an illusion. You subscribe to the philosophy that there is nowhere to go and nothing to attain, because you are already there and you already possess it.
But what about this yearning? What about the way a poem by Rilke or Rumi breaks open your heart and triggers a sorrow that could consume you if you gave in to it? You’re pretty sure this is not a matter of mere psychology. It has little to do with unresolved issues of childhood abandonment, or codependent tendencies to falsely place the source of your wholeness outside yourself. The longing is your recognition of the deepest truth that God is love and that this is all you want. Every lesser desire melts when it comes near that flame.”

~ Mirabai Starr, “Longing for the Beloved”

There is much soul-yearning today. Some yearn to return to an earlier way of being where there is more peace or certainty (or at least the illusion of these things). Many seek to break free of the restrictions and unfairness of the current social order, wanting to create a more equitable and sustainable society. While this may seem like it ought to be a straightforward process, it is happening in a time of information overload, siloed media, increasing complexity, and serious imminent threats to our ways of living. The pathway of cultural evolution becomes more complex and as a result, people grow angrier and more frustrated. There is clearly a significant mental and emotional health crisis happening. This has led to many of our current challenges, and, sadly, has all-too-often defined our reactions and responses to them.

“As bad as this virus is and as invasive as it has proven to be, what it’s exposed about us is far worse. It’s going to be a long haul to get well.”

~ John Pavlovitz (LINK)

So how are we to respond? Social media, which I do engage in, is increasingly frustrating. I feel like I want to keep reminding people to have a sense of compassion, and a sense of humor, while trying not to be triggered by some of the posts, tweets, memes, etc. We are in a time of too much information from too many sources for us to adequately comprehend and evaluate, making discernment (which is essential) increasingly more difficult. I will not withdraw, but I recognize the need to amplify my spiritual practices so as to be more available an empowered.

In my confusion I seek clarity, in my fear I seek courage, in my anger I seek calm, in my insecurity I seek strength. In all of these, I seek the realization of Spirit As Me in each unfolding moment. I seek to know the Oneness we share as I see others who are not being their best selves. Where I see injustice, I seek to bring a consciousness of justice, compassion, and equality.

I do these things though attention, intention, practice, forgiveness, and gratitude. For me this is taking more time, focus, and effort than usual. There is a wide spectrum of challenges, many of them with great depth, and I must attain and maintain a sense of equanimity so that I will come to know clearly what is mine to do (What Is #MineToDo – LINK).

As always, it begins within – how am I seeing myself, who am I being during all of this? And does that compare with who I would prefer to be? Spiritual practices are about our being nature – becoming the kind of person who naturally behaves as we would aspire to behave. BEING compassionate makes acting with compassion automatic. BEING forgiving makes forgiveness automatic. And so on.

There are no “Five Steps to a Perfect Society” available to us. We must each do our own inner work and then seek to contribute to the greater good, each in our own way as one among many. All the while, we need to avoid being drawn into the fear and negativity of those who are wounded, lost, and angry to the degree that they are incapable of being present. They may not be available to help right now and arguing with them does no one any good. I suggest taking another path. We need to be firm in our intentions and actions without losing an inner tenderness.

Affirmation: I stand strong in my deepening awareness and authenticity. I stand clear of those who are unable to contribute positively right now. I say YES to the unfolding realization of Spirit as me and I seek connection with others who share this pathway of awakening. I support justice, equality, fairness, and compassion. I bring these qualities with me wherever I am. I stand firm, but with an open heart.

Here’s a thought. Go to your bookshelves and pick up an inspirational book that you have not read in a few years. Read some of it. I think you will find that you have known what to do to BE your best self for some time. Today’s work is to realize this essential truth. These are times when it’s good to review the basics.

“The great need of our time is for people to be connected to spirit.”

~ Harold Stone

Finally, here is a list of positive ideas for the upcoming election and the ongoing “election season” to help us to stay clear, centered, and focused.

Affirmations for Politics

 As always, your comments are welcomed!

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: CSLGeneva Global Connection Conference –

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WHY WE RESIST CREATING A BETTER WORLD

“What does it mean to be healthy in an unhealthy system?”

~ Nora Bateson, Small Arcs of Larger Circles

What would your life be like if every choice you made were, psychologically and spiritually, a healthy choice? What would our societies be like if that were true for all, or at least a large majority of us? What if we only elected people, or made healthy choices about who would lead us, who were themselves likely to make healthy choices?

To the degree that you recognize how things would be different, or at least that they WOULD be different, you are recognizing how often choices and decisions are NOT made in healthy ways. We are the inheritors of societies and cultures in which many, many unhealthy choices have been made, resulting in everything from wars to internal violence, to massive inequality, needless competition, opression and more. We are all, to one degree or another, wounded by this harshness and cruelty, yet we tend to go about our lives as if it were all normal, feeling somehow diminished that we are not stronger. Some of this is due to the inevitable growing pains of human development, but much of it is due to our failure to understand and foster human development in healthy ways.

“When our souls are wounded, they respond in ways terrible to themselves and others. They can only change themselves and their society when they become conscious of their wounds.”

~ James Hollis

We are taught, early on, what our worth is, what our role is, and how we are to see the world and other people. For the most part, we are taught this by people who have been wounded themselves and have developed a personality which either denies that wounding, or wears is as a mask of victimhood. My recent series on the wounded masculine in this society speaks to this as well (LINK).

This culture of the wounded wounding the innocent has produced a variety of results. Here is just one: if you look at the current situation with he COVID-19 virus, you can easilyly see that the virus itself is less of an issue than many of the responses to it – denial, fear, outrage, politicization. In this atmosphere, the virus multiplies much more than it would if we had a more unified, healthy response. It is as if we have developed a type of immune system which guarantees that healthy responses will be resisted. When we need healthy cooperation, instead we get unhealthy division and conflict, driven by people seeking power and/or acting from fear. We get conspiracy theories instead of relying on scientific guidance.

“The Waste Land is that territory of wounded people—that is, of people living inauthentic lives, broken lives, who have never found the basic energy for living, and they live, therefore, in this blighted landscape.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

The good news is that healing is always possible. It must begin with the individual and work its way outward to the larger community. We have among us the healed and healers, but they are too often subjected to that immune system response and dismissed; and there are many who are not healed who pretend to be healers. It makes for a landscape of confusion, which is another reason it is so important to do the work to allow that authentic knowing to emerge – this is known as discernment (LINK).

Healing is a return to Truth. It requires some degree of awareness that something needs to be healed, and some way to facilitate that healing. We either heal ourselves by changing our consciousness, or we use external people or modalities to allow us to bypass our lack of self-awareness or self-consciousness. Healing (enlightenment) is more about subtraction than it is about addition. We must dissolve the limiting consciousness with makes us attract unhealthy ideas, conditions, and choices so that our natural innate inner wisdom and compassion can emerge.

“Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.”

~Adyashanti

Many of the spiritual masters teach that what stands between our current circumstances and becoming spiritually awakened, or enlightened if you will, is not the need to grow, but the need to release. The mathematics of spiritual growth is mostly subtraction, the removal of limited belief patterns and the effects of trauma so that our natural, evolving selves can emerge. What needs to be added is awareness; what needs to be subtracted are limiting fear-based beliefs.

Instead, we are taught to strive and drive, ending up with little to show for it in terms of authentic fulfillment. We have created what we call “developed” societies which are unfair, overly competitive, and emotionally (and too often physically) violent. We hit our children, demean them, and they all to often grow into wounded adults and then prey on themselves and others. Wounded people wound people – it’s true. I tell people that the biggest challenge in my ministry wasn’t raising money or finding volunteers – it was getting people to believe that they are worthy of love simply because they exist.

The Apartment

“The Apartment” 1963 – Shirley McLain & Jack Lemmon

“If a person doesn’t know how they are wounded, they can deny the pain of others and the tragedies of this life. If a person doesn’t know how they are wounded they can’t see that others are wounded as well.”

~ Michael Meade

We have been conditioned to value our individual good over the common good (which is what wounded people do) and we are unhappy despite our great collective prosperity. For many, this false sense of well-being has come at the expense of others – individuals and entire races – who have been exploited and worse so that we could have the illusion of being self-sufficient. We are unhappier (LINK) heavily in debt, and angry – blaming others for our unhappiness. We too often elevate the most wounded among us to positions of power and wealth, assuming their worthiness because of their achievement or luck and then paying the price when they betray us. We are wounded, we have been for centuries, and we continue to wound each succeeding generation as we pass on our unconscious ways of seeing ourselves and one another.

Those of us on spiritual pathways find themselves too often trapped in unconscious conflict which denies us full access to our natural inner wisdom. We are wounded – all of us to varying degrees – and we have been conditioned to deny this deep truth. So, we seek a salve of peace and goodness, to detach from the cruel world around us, living in denial. Until we confront ourselves, we will continue to repeat the same individual and collective patterns over and over and over.

“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

What the kind of deep personal work, including shadow work can do is show us how to move through the inevitable conflicts, challenges, losses, and sadness of life, using these things as steppingstones to wholeness. We are not meant to have friction-free lives, quite the opposite; nothing in the universe is free of friction – things collide, burn up, explode. Our very existence was made possible by the explosions of stars and the collisions of galaxies. To see spirituality as a pathway to some form of catatonic peace is to misunderstand our own nature and the nature of the universe in which we exist. What we are called to do is to tangle with our demons, our challenges, and learn to live in this world the way it is. We have within us everything we need to do this, but we must learn to encourage it to emerge.

“Every single one of us has it within us to be patient, kind, and compassionate. And each one of us forgets this. A central task in life is to remember.”

~ John Campbell

Once again, we in New Thought have an advantage because our teachings encourage us to remember, to know who we really are, beings with the spark of divinity with access to an infinite store of potential. For many, that is a difficult thing to accept fully – it certainly was for me when I first found the teaching. My decades of conditioning about power being external to me, whether in an Old Testament God, an angry parent, a teacher who shouldn’t have been teaching, friends who lacked the capacity for compassion, wounded all, through them I had formed my self-concept and worldview.

It took several years of classwork, counseling, and community before I began to seriously accept my own agency and began to accept my divinity. As I learned to work with the Law to manifest more good, I was also learning to embrace a greater idea of Spirit. The ensuing 25+ years have been about refining and deepening that realization while doing deep internal (mostly shadow) work to clear the way for my inner, latent, evolutionary development to emerge. In that process I have come to realize that my inner wisdom and compassion naturally seek to emerge. It was me and the fearful limited beliefs I had accumulated which narrowed the path of inner emergence to a trickle at times. I learned to forgive myself, then redouble my efforts, constantly correcting my course through spiritual practices and deep work.

I see this as a path to authenticity, to the deep soul-identity we arrive here with as an embedded potential awaiting recognition and emergence. Like a seed in a meadow, the conditions must be correct for germination and growth to occur. So, it is with each of us, we need to be nurtured and loved properly to encourage our authentic growth. To the degree that this has not occurred, we can seek to replenish what may have been missing from our upbringing, using clear ideas of wisdom and compassion as guides for the choices we make.

If I had made only healthy choices, what would my life be like? If I make only healthy choices from this moment forward, regardless of appearances, what can my life be like in the future? Can I commit to this direction, knowing that I will stumble along the path, but resolving to return to this deep intention no matter what?

If our society now made only healthy choices, would not the shift from racism, sexism, classism, ageism, policing, governing, and more be more clear? How do we increase the critical mass of healthy intention leading to healthy choices? I think through individual commitments to personal spiritual development.

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

Humanity is crying out for the release of our authentic potential. It is time for those with the awareness needed to recognize the need to direct our choice-making to come ONLY from wisdom and compassion; to do our best and trust that we will grow into the process over time. Through such an intentional practice, we can do our subtraction of the limiting beliefs and sense of woundedness which holds us in place. The time to begin is now. The place to begin is where you are.

“The lesson which these observations convey is, Be, and not seem. Let us acquiesce. Let us take our bloated nothingness out of the path of the divine circuits. Let us unlearn our wisdom of the world.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, Spiritual Laws

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

COMING SOON:

Hero Journey Save Date

DEFUNDING THE POLICE AS A COMPASSIONATE ACT

“To get through this time, you need foresight and the ability to envision the worst outcomes. People mistake that for pessimism but it’s really compassionate realism. The reason to envision it is to avoid it, to create contingency plans.”

~ Sarah Kendzior, @gaslitnation

“Never be afraid to raise your voice for honesty and truth and compassion against injustice and lying and greed. If people all over the world…would do this, it would change the earth.”

~ William Faulkner

Compassion is a big topic. I have blogged about it a number of times (LINK). This post will contain some specifics addressing the current issues in the United States. For my international readers, you will find some things applicable to your local issues as well, for compassion is in short supply worldwide. The quotes throughout the post can all be applied generally.

The focus here will be the idea of #DefundThePolice which has become an intentional catchphrase, particularly since the murder by the police of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The idea of defunding the police, if taken to its extreme, seems impossible, foolish, or an idea whose time has come, depending on your point of view. There are any number of definitions of what this means (LINK to chart) (LINK to article by former police officer), but I think that the most common is to take some money out of police budgets and refund many social service programs which have been defunded over the past few decades while making significant reforms in how the United States is policed.

As some of you know, before becoming a minister, I worked in law enforcement for 24 years. I saw much that I was proud of and much that I was not proud of during that time. I have no doubt that massive reform of policing is needed, particularly relating to the massive militarization of police culture which has expanded since 9/11 and which effectively sits atop a racist/sexist/classist culture within police agencies. Part of that reform must also be to recognize that the police are part of larger systems, including criminal justice, political, and societal systems. Therefore, changing the police culture is made more difficult unless we also work to change the culture of the larger systems to which police departments must answer, and with whom they must work.

I am sure that there will be many conversations, committees, task forces, and the like addressing the generalities and specifics of this issue. What I believe to be critical in these many processes is the recognition that what we are seeking is a compassionate society and the policies, practices, and politics required to create and maintain such a society. This, to me, is the “more perfect union” to which the US Constitution aspires as a living document.

“Compassion asks us to go where it hurts, to enter into places of pain, to share in brokenness, fear, confusion, and anguish. Compassion challenges us to cry out with those in misery, to mourn with those who are lonely, to weep with those in tears. Compassion requires us to be weak with the weak, vulnerable with the vulnerable, and powerless with the powerless. Compassion means full immersion in the condition of being human.”

~ Henri J.M. Nouwen

Compassion is the highest possible human calling – it is the achievement of a true recognition of empathy and Oneness, divine within and divine without. It goes beyond sympathy to something much deeper and more profound. It is not easy to be compassionate due to our fear-based conditioning; our police forces as currently constituted are testament to this pervasive fear and its dominance in our society.

Compassion Slide

From Deep Change, Inc. – DeepChange.com

“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.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

For many of us, compassion is aspirational – something we may strive to achieve, but feel is beyond us. Actually, compassion is within each of us as a natural human potential. It is a developmental step toward the best version of ourselves. It is a realization of true spiritual warriorship.

 “A peaceful warrior sheds the self-importance of ego and focuses on serving others with love, compassion, kindness and understanding for all.”

~ Puck Arks on Twitter

“May this suffering serve to awaken compassion.”

~ A traditional prayer to Kwan Yin, Bodhisattva of Compassion

Our compassion emerges within us when we have done the work and had the experiences to ready ourselves for it. It is beyond a consciousness of separation, of us vs. them. It is built upon a foundation of true empathy for yourself and for others. It is wanting the best for all and being willing so see through the actions of the fearful to their true nature.

The reality is brutal cops have very likely been brutalized themselves, or they have been shattered by the human misery they have encountered in their work. Unable to cope with this, it becomes shadow and compensatory behaviors are expressed so that the fear can remain hidden. Civilians become “them” and are treated accordingly. There are few departments with effective psychological support services, and police reward systems value numbers over quality; complaints against officers are expected and often covered up. Add to that a systemic culture which denies any other types of response to be valid and you have a recipe for disaster.

“Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and the wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our own darkness well can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”

~ Pema Chödrön

Over time, many social service agencies and programs have had drastic budget cuts or been eliminated altogether. Much of their work has fallen to police, who are neither trained for this kind of work nor inclined to do it. Most Defund the Police programs would transfer funds from police budgets for this kind of work to be handled by people trained to do it. This would be a compassionate response – including for the police, who are asked to do far too much in our society. There must be significant interim changes in policing, but large scale cultural change will take time and goes well beyond the police station.

If extraneous and improper duties are removed, then police can concentrate on what they are trained and inclined to do, but they will have to do much of it differently. What the current zeitgeist is calling for is transformational change in law enforcement and beyond – the demilitarization of policing is a start, and the recruiting, selection, training, and ongoing support systems in law enforcement need to be transformed as well.

“Righteousness goes beyond justice. Justice is strict and exact, giving each person his due. Righteousness implies benevolence, kindness, generosity…. Justice may be legal; righteousness is associated with a burning compassion for the oppressed.”

~ Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel

We cannot really expect police as a culture to have respect for this king of righteousness until their support and evaluation systems expect and demand it. When I was in law enforcement, I never heard a politician (to whom police chiefs, hence police, answer) say anything off-camera except to be more forceful in controlling “criminal elements.” That almost always meant non-white people, which was often made clear. The key to getting ahead was to have good statistics without too many use-of-force complaints, and not getting on the news in an unflattering way. Taking extra time and effort to help someone usually cost you in your evaluations.

“The principal of compassion is that which converts disillusionment into a participatory companionship. This is the basic love, the charity, that turns a critic into a human being who has something to give to – as well as to demand of – the world.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

“When we know ourselves to be connected to all others, acting compassionately is simply the natural thing to do,”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

Many, if not most, of my friends in law enforcement see encouraging compassion as a fool’s errand or worse. Their worldview often sees places where they work as jungles in which they have to survive. They see police leadership as being beholden to politicians and the media, and they have nothing but disdain for the media and most politicians. They smirk their way through various kinds of cultural sensitivity training and see “street justice” as the only kind most criminals will get. Within the cocoon of the police culture, which is tribal and family-like, they get nothing but support for these views.

Management guru Peter F. Drucker once wrote: “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” You can substitute training for strategy as well. Most organizational cultures are very difficult to change – in ministry among those of us who do that kind of work, we believe that it takes at least five years to implement culture change if there is agreement to make the changes. Where such agreement is lacking, it will take much longer. This issue of cultural intransigence exists at multiple levels in our society, and the police are one spoke on the wheel of public institutions and services. True change must come from the hub and work its way outward. In other words, true cultural change has to be systemic, have significant agreement as to goals and methods, and it will take time to implement. Even though that may seem daunting, it is worthwhile. And I submit that compassion must be a core value at the center of the hub of the wheel.

Compassion serves all constituencies, all communities, and the police themselves. Only a transformed way of viewing our society will lead to the array of public services which truly serves everyone and provides for a peaceful and sustainable way of living together.

Until we expand our capacity for compassion, we will continue to be in conflict and separation. Each of us is called to do our inner work to develop our compassionate hearts so that we can collectively do the outer work of creating a world where justice is realized and everyone has the opportunity to thrive. We are called to create #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone and to build #TheBelovedCommunity together.

‎”Having compassion does not mean indiscriminately accepting or going along with others’ actions regardless of the consequences to ourselves or the world. It is about being able to say ‘no’ where we need to without putting the other out of our hearts, without making the other less of a fellow human being. There is a difference between discerning and sometimes even opposing harmful behavior and making the other wrong – less than we are, less a part of that presence that is greater than ourselves- in our own minds and hearts.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

 As always, your comments are appreciated and please share this post with others who may be interested. I know that this post is in no way a complete appraisal of the situations which currently exist and continue to unfold. I simply wanted to place the concept of compassion into the cauldron of alchemical elements from which we are co-creating our way forward.

Copyright 2020- Jim Lockard

TURNING THE TIDE ON RACISM

“Dear White Progressives, Liberals, and Moderates—especially faith communities, Don’t be cowards. Speak explicitly/directly into institutional racism, systemic injustices, white privilege, and against the dehumanizing/senseless murders of black people. Silence is participation.”

~ John Pavlovitz (LINK)

“The violence of racism is that it makes you believe that you have to be someone other than yourself in order to be loved.”

~ Clint Smith

Here we are again – actually, here we are still – seemingly eternally – in the throes of racial injustice in the United States. The sadness, anger, bewilderment, and grieving continue and expand. Perhaps we had set racism to the side so that we could deal with the coronavirus or with our divisive politics, but here it is again, right in our faces. The flashpoints this time – Central Park (again – LINK) and Minneapolis – points of drama in the continuing story of racism in the US, a non-stop parade of outrageous behaviors.

Already the usual comments are coming forth from all sides (yes, there are many sides to this seemingly straightforward issue) as we repeat the patterns from the last time and the many times before that. The repeating of patterns – a period of arousal followed by settling back into quietude (for most), hoping that this time it will be different – is what an addictive process looks like. It is what happens in families, communities, nations ignore a problem until you can’t any longer, then follow your personal pattern of outrage or retreat, wait a while, then settle back into ignoring it again as you hope that “someone” does “something.” In personal relationship, this is what is called codependency (LINK). This is a form of withdrawal.

We hear that our racism is “systemic” a lot, which it is, but I wonder how many people fully grasp what that means. It means that racism is an integral part of our societal systems, that our society as it is constructed cannot operate without racism (LINK). Has it ever? What would make you think that this integral part of our society would simply fade and vanish? It is interwoven into our culture like the different threads on a loom – pull one out and the whole fabric dissembles. Eliminating something integral means taking the whole system apart and reweaving it with something different replacing what was removed. Not a simple task. It requires the opposite of withdrawal – which is engagement.

“In modern America we believe racism to be the property of the uniquely villainous and morally deformed, the ideology of trolls, gorgons and orcs. We believe this even when we are actually being racist.”

~ Ta-Nehise Coates: The Good, Racist People

Until we are able to see this systemic issue for what it is, we will remain in this loop of upset and ignorance and continue a destructive pattern of withdrawal. Racism is like a cancer which has metastasized but it felt in only one part of the body. The entire body is affected, but if we focus only on where it hurts, ignoring the rest of the disease, we will never heal. My experience of racism has been through the eyes of others – minorities whom I have know or read about or whose books I have read – I have never had an experience of racism directed AT ME. I do not know what that experience is, but I can imagine few things worse.

And there are many, many ways which racism affects people which I might never even notice as they are so embedded in a societal system which benefits me as a straight white male. I used to make the mistake, out of ignorance, of thinking that racism was about overt acts done by mean people; but it is much more than that, often blending in with what appears to be kindness and openness.

“When you believe niceness disproves the presence of racism, it’s easy to start believing bigotry is rare, and that the label racist should be applied only to mean-spirited, intentional acts of discrimination. The problem with this framework – besides being a gross misunderstanding of how racism operates in systems and structures enabled by nice people – is that it obligates me to be nice in return, rather than truthful. I am expected to come closer to the racists. Be nicer to them. Coddle them.”

~ Austin Channing Brown

Calling for increased kindness speaks neither to the oppressed nor the oppressor. Neither sees kindness as a pathway to their goals. Being an example of kindness is another matter. Developing the inner strength to be consistently kind, even in the face of contempt, is a worthy ambition, even a necessary one. Can I be “prayed up” enough to be kind wherever possible AND to stand up to bigotry and injustice when I see it? Can I speak for the oppressed, speak truth to power, speak to those who commit unjust acts firmly, assertively, but with love in my heart?

And how to deal with my anger? In my case, my anger is mostly relating to shame and to impotence. What can I do to make a difference? I am an old white man living in Europe. I did not do all that I could have to foster anti-racism in my life – in some cases, sadly, I did quite the opposite. My anger is different than the anger of a black person in the US, or a queer person, or any other person whose identity is outside the power position that I happen to occupy for no other reason than my identity at birth.

“Anger is a necessary, appropriate, and useful response to this kind of injustice. It is the beginning of social critique and helps us protect the appropriate boundaries for ourselves and others. Yet anger can be dangerous, too. When it hangs around too long, it becomes self-defeating and egocentric. Then it distorts the message it came to offer us. We can become so intent on pointing out problems that we are never actually willing to be part of the solution. As I like to say, the best criticism of the bad is the practice of the better, not more criticism! The question of true conversion and solidarity is, ‘how can I work through my anger and get to the other side, so I can be a life-giving presence with and for those who are most suffering?’  For oppressed communities, however, anger can be a form of survival, a necessary stage on the path towards healing. Listening to such anger with compassionate friendship can itself be a form of solidarity.”

~ Richard Rohr

I will continue to be a voice for justice, for love, for unity, and for compassion in my way. I pray today for the residents and the police of Minneapolis and for the people involved in the Central Park incident. I pray for us all.

I trust that you will find your role to play in the healing of our society in the unfolding and evolving human story. Begin with prayer and move outward to action.

May peace prevail on earth. May we, together, build #TheBelovedCommunity

“Prayer doesn’t change things for us, it changes us for things.”

~ Norman Vincent Peale

“(One’s) mind should swing from inspiration to action, from contemplation to accomplishment, from prayer to performance.”

~ Ernest Holmes

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

IS COVID-19 HAPPENING FOR A REASON? DOES ANYTHING?

“As a new thought minister, I cringe when I hear someone say, “everything happens for a reason.” There is a misleading connotation in that statement that smacks of kismet or fate, which rules out self-determination. However, what I believe is trying to be said is; Everything is an effect that has a Cause.”

~ Rev. Dr. Carol Carnes

We all interpret reality through an individualized lens. This lens is based on things like our level of personal development, our experiences, our biases, our stage of cultural development, and more. Everything from spiritual principles to daily experiences are interpreted according to this lens, which itself changes over time as we develop and as experiences affect us. Dr. Carnes’ statement above comes from her own lens and how I read it and you read it is largely determined by our own individualized lenses. Fortunately, these lenses overlap sufficiently for us to communicate – in a general sense anyway. I think that we would be amazed at how often we misunderstand and are misunderstood, but such is life.

Much of the difference in interpretation through our lenses has to do with our capacity for complexity of thought and other factors (LINK); in some ways, humans do not do well in understanding certain types of issues. We desire either/or answers when the solutions, if there are any, lie in one of many “gray areas.” This relates to cultural evolutionary theory and the Spiral Dynamics Model (LINK) addresses this quite effectively. The aspects of our reality I want to address here are some key spiritual principles from New Thought teachings.

Does everything happen for a reason? And what do we mean by that statement? It will mean different things to different people. In a similar way, great books such as The Science of Mind by Ernest Holmes can be read at different levels. Each time I review that book it is like I am reading something new. This is because I have changed between readings; I have developed, hopefully in a positive direction, so I see things differently. Different aspects of the book come to my attention.

Holmes & 1926 Text

Here are a few statements relating to things happening for a reason from the writings of Ernest Holmes (underlining added):

“Every person is surrounded by a thought atmosphere.  This mental atmosphere is the direct result of thought which in its turn becomes the direct reason for the cause of that which comes into our lives.” ~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind & Success (p. 11) & Science of Mind, 1938  (p. 294)

“The Law never reasons with us, saying, ‘You know, I don’t think that would be a good thing for you to have.’  We have faith in the undeviating neutrality of the Law.  It has no preferences.” ~ Ernest Holmes

Everything that happens to us must start with the movement of intelligence within us, which is a movement of our word or contemplation or meditation within ourselves.” ~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind (p.201) 

 Holmes taught that we work within an impersonal Law which could not be broken and which had no preferences. He taught that our life experiences are the result of our own mental atmosphere (consciousness) which we develop and which we can change by changing our patterns of thought and feeling. The Law acts upon our current consciousness, which determines how we relate to and experience the world around us; something often called the Law of Attraction.

This begs the question of how and why reality arises as it does – where did this Universe come from and where is it going? Does that have anything to do with us or are we just passengers? How much effect can we have on our surroundings, and how would that be enhanced or limited by the effect of other minds and forms of consciousness? I believe that Holmes and other New Thought founders believed that to assume something close to total personal influence over our experience was optimal.

Was the COVID-19 virus generated in order to carry out some larger plan for humanity; was it created by human consciousness? Or was it to help your aunt Mary realize her own mortality so that she learned to relax a bit an appreciate life more? Was its reason global or personal or both? Who or what generated that “reason” or purpose? Are such events, when they happen, part of a larger plan unfolding which was or is determined at a Universal level? Or are we all smaller individualized expressions with appropriately smaller fields of influence? Are we all, like the cells in our own body, part of a larger whole of which we cannot conceive, and our individualized efforts in consciousness are co-creating the expression of the whole? Can I get my head around such a concept and the inherent mystery within it – or do I perhaps need to “know” an answer because I am thinking at a level which does not allow me to accept some inherent mystery paradox in my conscious awareness?

There is a rational scientific lens (Modernist-Orange in Spiral Dynamics) view of this virus – and I think that Andrew Sullivan illustrates it very well in this quote:

“The truth, of course, is that plagues have no meaning. All they are is a virus perpetuating itself inside and alongside us. Period. We know this now — unlike many of our ancestors — because of science. Many epidemics will appear to target certain groups or spare others, but that is a function, in most cases, of biology, or behavior, or a relevant social structure. There is no viral intention. There are merely viral effects. And they are explicable. The Europeans were not spared smallpox for divine reasons: They had acquired immunity in Europe, while the Native Americans had none.”

~ Andrew Sullivan, The Intelligencer, New York Magazine 2020

Orange vMEME

Such a view is based on a lens which accepts that what is called objective reality, that which can be observed and measured by the human senses and their extensions (telescopes, microscopes, etc.), is all there is. This can be a satisfying approach because it seems to have the answers, but we know (as did our ancestors) that there is more to life than meets the eye.

Seeing beyond objective reality is remarkably interesting but can be very perilous. This is because what is beyond objective reality is beyond our major senses and is therefore ripe for conjecture, projection, and falsification. The more mature levels of spiritual understanding recognize the mystery present in everything (including objective reality, by the way), and find ways to allow that mystery to exist without understanding it. Spiritually mature people are very skeptical of people who say they have the answers to the questions of the ages.

If we are to spiritually evolve we are called to more mature, complex, and paradoxical levels of thinking. But until we are there, we will have problems dealing with situations which call for higher-level realization, so often an either/or response remains our primary means of seeing reality. A danger of thinking that the COVID-19 virus or a hurricane came for the purpose of showing you a lesson, aside from being untrue, is that you can easily see yourself as exceptional. This kind of thinking can lead to narcissism, then to a spiritual arrogance which we have seen everywhere that religion and spirituality exist, and we all suffer as a result.

 

Beautiful BridgeAnother problem with this kind of thinking is what happens when events like the virus occur and one’s life DOES NOT improve in some way. It becomes quite easy to develop a diminished view of oneself, which decreases the ability to master thoughts and influence one’s own life and the world in positive ways. This level of thinking easily leads to magical thinking – a result of having a limited idea how reality works and having not evolved to a level which more readily accepts mystery and paradox. From such limited thinking we see the masses of simplistic answers and conspiracy theories which spread so much more easily since the advent of social media.

“Magical thinking is defined as believing that one event happens as a result of another without a plausible link of causation. For example: ‘I got up on the left side of the bed today; therefore, it will rain.’ . . . a more nuanced definition of magical thinking would be believing in things more strongly than either evidence or experience justifies. Though I can’t prove the sun will rise in the east tomorrow, because it has every day since I’ve been alive, such a belief couldn’t then be said to represent magical thinking. But because every person who’s ever jumped off a building or a bridge has gone down and not up, believing that flapping my arms hard enough would enable me to float into the sky certainly would.”

~ Alex Lickerman M.D., Psychology Today, 2009 (LINK)

It is not that conspiracy theories never turn out to be true, it is that the level of thinking which tends to accept such concepts is inadequate to the complexities, paradoxes, and evolving realities of the world in which we live. Magic thinking places power outside of ourselves, diminishing our ability to have dominion over our thoughts, feelings, and actions. We look for some external power to blame or to credit for our circumstances, which is not a health position to take. Or magical thinking can lead us to overstate our own power, setting us up for failure.

The idea that this virus happened for some specific reason leads neither to a successful life nor a helpful worldview. Seeing it as an opportunity for each of us to grow in some way is a more helpful viewpoint to take – it keeps the authority within where it truly resides and recognizes the truth that everything contains an opportunity for personal growth. The virus is just the virus, an entity among billions of others in an incredibly complex system of evolution, seeking to perpetuate itself. In that sense, its reason for being is the same as yours or mine – to be alive in a mysterious universe and use its consciousness to fully express itself.

“We could make no greater mistake than to think that we created either Life or Law, but it would be an equal error to suppose that we escape Life or Law.  We are subject to it but not in any predetermined sense, for no matter what happened yesterday we can change its sequence today.

~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind (p. 346)

As always, your comments are welcomed. Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Also, consider following this blog – you will receive an email whenever a new post is uploaded. Thank you for reading!

Copyright 2020- Jim Lockard

 

Mr. Electrico and Ray Bradbury

This post is unusual for this blog – I hope that you find it to be of value, as I did.

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As Ray Bradbury fans know, there’s a curious minor character named Mr. Electrico who turns up in his 1962 novel “Something Wicked This Way Comes.” Bradbury always insisted Mr. Electrico was real but scholars never could confirm that. Then in a fantastic interview from 2010 by Sam Weller in The Paris Review, Bradbury tells the uncanny story of how he met the real Mr. Electrico:

…He was a real man. That was his real name. Circuses and carnivals were always passing through Illinois during my childhood and I was in love with their mystery. One autumn weekend in 1932, when I was twelve years old, the Dill Brothers Combined Shows came to town. One of the performers was Mr. Electrico. He sat in an electric chair. A stagehand pulled a switch and he was charged with fifty thousand volts of pure electricity. Lightning flashed in his eyes and his hair stood on end.

The next day, I had to go the funeral of one of my favorite uncles. Driving back from the graveyard with my family, I looked down the hill toward the shoreline of Lake Michigan and I saw the tents and the flags of the carnival and I said to my father, Stop the car. He said, What do you mean? And I said, I have to get out. My father was furious with me. He expected me to stay with the family to mourn, but I got out of the car anyway and I ran down the hill toward the carnival.

It didn’t occur to me at the time, but I was running away from death, wasn’t I? I was running toward life. And there was Mr. Electrico sitting on the platform out in front of the carnival and I didn’t know what to say. I was scared of making a fool of myself. I had a magic trick in my pocket, one of those little ball-and-vase tricks—a little container that had a ball in it that you make disappear and reappear—and I got that out and asked, Can you show me how to do this? It was the right thing to do. It made a contact. He knew he was talking to a young magician. He took it, showed me how to do it, gave it back to me, then he looked at my face and said, Would you like to meet those people in that tent over there? Those strange people? And I said, Yes sir, I would. So he led me over there and he hit the tent with his cane and said, Clean up your language! Clean up your language! He took me in, and the first person I met was the illustrated man. Isn’t that wonderful? The Illustrated Man! He called himself the tattooed man, but I changed his name later for my book. I also met the strong man, the fat lady, the trapeze people, the dwarf, and the skeleton. They all became characters.

Mr. Electrico was a beautiful man, see, because he knew that he had a little weird kid there who was twelve years old and wanted lots of things. We walked along the shore of Lake Michigan and he treated me like a grown-up. I talked my big philosophies and he talked his little ones. Then we went out and sat on the dunes near the lake and all of a sudden he leaned over and said, I’m glad you’re back in my life. I said, What do you mean? I don’t know you. He said, You were my best friend outside of Paris in 1918. You were wounded in the Ardennes and you died in my arms there. I’m glad you’re back in the world. You have a different face, a different name, but the soul shining out of your face is the same as my friend. Welcome back.

Now why did he say that? Explain that to me, why? Maybe he had a dead son, maybe he had no sons, maybe he was lonely, maybe he was an ironical jokester. Who knows? It could be that he saw the intensity with which I live. Every once in a while at a book signing I see young boys and girls who are so full of fire that it shines out of their face and you pay more attention to that. Maybe that’s what attracted him.

When I left the carnival that day I stood by the carousel and I watched the horses running around and around to the music of “Beautiful Ohio,” and I cried. Tears streamed down my cheeks. I knew something important had happened to me that day because of Mr. Electrico. I felt changed. He gave me importance, immortality, a mystical gift. My life was turned around completely. It makes me cold all over to think about it, but I went home and within days I started to write. I’ve never stopped.

Seventy-seven years ago, and I’ve remembered it perfectly. I went back and saw him that night. He sat in the chair with his sword, they pulled the switch, and his hair stood up. He reached out with his sword and touched everyone in the front row, boys and girls, men and women, with the electricity that sizzled from the sword. When he came to me, he touched me on the brow, and on the nose, and on the chin, and he said to me, in a whisper, “Live forever.” And I decided to.

Ray Bradbury, The Art of Fiction No. 203” (The Paris Review via @Clnwlsh and The Anomalist)

For me, this Creation Story touches something deep within. When we are awakened to who we are, there are always elements of magic involved. Someone says or does something which triggers a deep memory within us – a memory of our true self. This story speaks to that idea so beautifully. I truly hope that you have had at least one Mr. Electrico in your life. I have, and it is something deep and wonderful. And, perhaps, you have been or will be a Mr. Electrico for someone else. What a privilege!

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Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard