NEW COURSE FOR SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP

Hello All,
Some folks over at Unity have created a course based on my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY.

A Monthly Online Mini-Retreat for Leaders in Spiritual Community

  • Explore integral leadership concepts and practices 
  • Imagine, stretch and engage in evolutionary dialogue 
  • Create a Beloved Community with a dynamic group of spiritual leaders

Retreat, Reflect, Reconnect and Renew

Each mini-retreat session includes quiet reflection and small group processing. Your cohort group will stay together for the entire duration of the program, so you will develop a beloved circle in your exploration of the book. We have much to teach each other! 

A Train-the-Trainer Experience!

All the teaching materials will become yours, so you can lead a study at your own ministry. Through this work, we will expand our understanding of evolving ministry, expand our skillfulness to lead diverse groups, and expand our presence so that each of us can lead others in creating The Beloved Community in our local spiritual centers.

For more info and to register (you may have to copy and paste this into your browser window):
https://newvistalearningcenter.com/the-beloved-community/

Love and Light,

Jim Lockard

2022 – WHAT WILL YOU MAKE OF IT?

“And now we welcome the new year. Full of things that have never been.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke

“And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself?”

~ Rumi

The time at the end of a calendar year and the beginning of a new year is critical in developing a sense of intentionality for our engagement with that new year. Now is a time to feel into the possibilities ahead and to set intentions for ourselves to develop the inner qualities we want to express and experience. To do this successfully, we must take an active approach or we will be overwhelmed by a combination of our own limited current consciousness and our response to the outer world’s events.

Our inner self-image or being state is what determines our experience of life. It is only when we increase the quality of love and empowerment of our being state that we truly develop to a new stage of being. We can temporarily change for the better, however unless that change becomes integrated into our being state, it will dissipate rather quickly.

There are many challenges facing us at every level of our being today – globally, nationally, locally, personally. The need to increase our deep sense of spiritual connection and power is important. Only by setting clear intentions and doing daily practices to integrate the realization of those intentions will be learn to master the increasing challenges we face.

By setting intentions I mean deciding who I am in regard to issues in my life. An intention is not to get a new car, or to have the money for the car; those are goals. The related intention is to be the person who naturally gets what I need when I need it. Notice the difference? Goals are important, but intentions are essential if goals are to be met consistently. And another effect of doing deep intentional work is that you will need to set fewer goals. When you realize in your being state who you are, you will naturally manifest at that level according to your needs and desires of the moment.

“Being negative is easy. There will always be a downside to everything good, a hurdle to everything desirable, a con to every pro. The real courage is in finding the good in what you have, the opportunities in every hurdle, the pros in every con.”

~ Carolyn Hax

The year 2021 brought many challenges, and I am sure that you have been affected in many ways. From the climate crisis to the pandemic to political upheaval, global challenges are calling us to significant personal and collective change. For many, there has been personal illness, loss of loved ones, financial challenges, and more. These are difficult enough when the global issues are less pressing but are amplified in times like this. Who we are in relation to these challenges is the critical factor in how we experience them. It is more and more important to develop a positive being state.

“If we insist on waiting for the world to change before we will be happy, we will have a long wait. When happiness is conditioned on the choices of others, it is out of our hands. Rather than a reactive process, true happiness is an inside-out process beginning in the heart and spiraling outward. When true happiness is present, the world does change. Inner joy is the cause, happiness the reaction.”

~ Jim Lockard

What can heal humanity is the inner awakening of enough of us so as to create being states which support the good and remove the fear. The conditions which impact our lives are calling forth new strengths, intentions, and commitments to healing and personal growth. Now, as 2021 becomes 2022, is a good time to recommit to building our being states – personally and in our families and communities – to new levels of realization.

Who do you want to be in 2022?

Who will you be in 2022?

This classic quote from Marianne Williamson is a good way to close this post:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

~ Marianne Williamson

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I have not posted here in a while because I have been focusing on a book project. The title is BEING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: Spiritual Leadership to Master Change. I am now in the final editing process, and I expect that the book will be ready to release in late January. I will keep you posted on the progress here.

UNFINISHED BUSINESS

“What would you do if you were free, unfettered by the claims of the past?”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

We in New Thought and the Human Potential Movement hear a lot about living in the now. Indeed, it is a sound spiritual principle, although, like so many spiritual principles, it is an often misunderstood one. Without going into a lot of detail, let me say this – you cannot live completely in the now, and you cannot be happy in the now if you have unfinished business from your past.

This idea of unfinished business has come up a lot in my life lately. I would describe unfinished business as unresolved strands from the past which require some kind of action in the present. The kind of unfinished business that holds us in place, keeps us from advancing, usually has a strong emotional component. It may be a grievance from being betrayed in the past, or a sense of shame from a past act of commission or omission on your part. It may be that one or more losses have not been grieved sufficiently; or the inability to go beyond grieving. It may be an unfinished or never-started conversation with someone which calls to you for resolution. It can also be a garage full of clutter, a stack of unpaid bills, or a few hundred unanswered emails.

The idea that a simple decision to live “in the now” can relieve us of the psychic energy of such unfinished business is naïve at best. It is also a denial of the complexity of our inner and outer lives.

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

~ Anaïs Nin

We are complex beings with complex minds and emotions. To think that we can make a conscious “executive decision” to stay in the present moment when our subconscious mind contains many levels of existence is immature thinking. We need to see ourselves for what we are – complex beings containing multitudes as the poet Walt Whitman said. Our past should not rule our present, but if we have unfinished business from the past, it holds us back from enjoying the present moment or planning the future. And, by the way, organizations and spiritual communities have unfinished business as well. Clearing and healing the past is essential if we are to move forward without the baggage of past issues restricting our ability to grow.

“I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not. Otherwise, they turn up unannounced and surprise us, come hammering on the mind’s door at 4 a.m. of a bad night and demand to know who deserted them, who betrayed them, who is going to make amends. We forget all too soon the things we thought we could never forget. We forget the loves and the betrayals alike, forget what we whispered and what we screamed, forget who we were.”

~ Joan Didion

I often recommend a process of exploring and acting on unfinished business for my coaching clients. You can begin with making a list of items which come to mind, while setting an intention to add items which you may not currently have in conscious memory to come to mind. Write it all down. Go through the list methodically and determine which items carry the most weight for you, which ones can be dealt with relatively easily, which ones will necessitate uncomfortable conversations, etc.

Work on no more than two or three at a time. As the items on the list are checked off, you will find a lightening of your mood and a greater sense of freedom in your life. Once you have cleared the list, make sure that you stay current with issues as they arise, so that the list stays clear. Then, you can evolve and grow to new levels of being without the baggage of the past holding you back.

“An evolving system cannot return to the past.”

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

MEDITATION IS NOT ABOUT QUIETING THE MIND

’Tame your mind, Control your mind’ is an empty societal construct

Mind cannot be tamed, it can be aligned

Taming your mind, forcing it, is a chase and a non-permanent endeavour

Mind retaliates strongly

It is far more effective to ‘Observe’ your mind

No one talks about this

~ @PhilosophyVK

How many of us have stopped trying to meditate because the thoughts would not stop?

Sitting quietly for a period of time and observing your thoughts and feelings arising and regressing without attempting to control them is what meditation is. Trying to tame or quiet the mind, or more foolishly, trying to eliminate your ego, is what meditation is not.

You might focus on your breathing, or recite a mantra silently or out loud, or observe a candle flame or some other object as a centering point, but that is simply a technique to remind you to observe your thoughts and feelings, not to get lost in or direct them.

“Meditation is akin to trauma therapy in many ways: in both practices one must remain engaged and alert for long periods of time, tolerate violent emotions without tuning out, and carry upwelling contents with empathy but without becoming over-identified with them.”

~ Ursula Wirtz

I like to think of meditation as the listening half of my ongoing conversation with my soul. When I am directing my thoughts, as in spiritual mind treatment or setting intentions, I am in the speaking part of the conversation. Both parts are needed so that we do not become unbalanced in our relationship with our soul – the portal to our divinity.

“A spiritual practice is a thing you do again and again, with a certain intention, and it changes you. It could be prayer or meditation or running or making art or writing morning pages, etc.. But it can hold you steady and fill you up when you’re giving out so much to others.”

~ Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

The occasional meditation may be salutary, but it cannot build toward something lasting. The practice must be regular, daily or multiple times a day, to build the relationship with the soul – the authentic self.

I have nothing more to say.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

COMPASSION: The Only Way Forward

This is the 6th Anniversary of the first post on this blog. There have been over 123,000 views and we currently have 711 regular followers. It has been a gift for me to be doing this as a significant part of my ministry for these years, and the blog will continue. My deepest gratitude for those around the world who have taken the time to visit, read, and comment.

Today’s topic is, once again, compassion. I can think of nothing more important to post about, because the development of compassion in individuals, families, communities, and nations is the only way forward for a harmonious and sustainable human presence on our dear Planet Earth.

Compassion is the full realization of who we are as divine beings living in the physical universe – the best of each of us expressed fully. It is obvious in viewing human history and human development that compassion must be developed – it doesn’t seem to show up on its own. Too many of our social patterns inhibit and restrict the development of compassion, which is often (mistakenly) seen as weakness, when there is nothing stronger that a compassionate person. There is nothing more important for spiritual communities to do than to teach, encourage, and model compassion.

“The one and only test of a valid religious idea, doctrinal statement, spiritual experience, or devotional practice was that it must lead directly to practical compassion. If your understanding of the divine made you kinder, more empathetic, and impelled you to express this sympathy in concrete acts of loving-kindness, this was good theology. But if your notion of God made you unkind, belligerent, cruel, or self-righteous, or if it led you to kill in God’s name, it was bad theology.

Compassion was the litmus test for the prophets of Israel, for the rabbis of the Talmud, for Jesus, for Paul, and for Muhammad, not to mention Confucius, Lao-tsu, the Buddha, or the sages of the Upanishads.”

~ Karen Armstrong

Compassion is more than sympathy, which is a limited consciousness of a positive, but incomplete nature – sympathy involves separation. It is also more than empathy, which is the capacity to cognitively and/or emotionally connect with and understand someone else. Absent the inner strength needed for true compassion, empathy can be an energy drain.

True compassion is built on two qualities: humility, which is the ability to live in truth, wherever it leads; and courage, which is the inner strength needed to keep one’s faculties operating in difficult situations. Combined, humility and courage give us integrity, out of which compassion can express. Compassion requires that we become immense.

The work right now is to become immense. We have to get our arms around immense things. Violence and hatred and bigotry and racism. And also around love and compassion and devotion and a certain fidelity to protect what is alive. We have to become immense. This is not a time to become small.”

~ Francis Weller

We live in very confusing times. Technology and ingenuity have given us amazing powers of communication, where we can access knowledge instantly and communicate almost without limit. However, these powers can be and are being misused by those who live in fear and have not developed a realization of their spiritual nature or of our universal connectedness. Humility allows us to question our beliefs, the beliefs of our various tribes and communities, the information we access. It keeps us from becoming automatons, blindly following groups or ideologies – or blindly distrusting everything from certain sources.

Posted by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse  @SenWhitehouse 

Courage gives us the strength to stand in our integrity and be fluid in our beliefs – to be nimble enough to change our mind when that is warranted. It allows us to be discerning, that is, to evaluate the validity of the information we receive and to act accordingly. Courage lets us face those with whom we disagree with love and compassion and to stand firmly in those qualities regardless of how we are treated by others.

Humility and courage allow us to be strong and flexible – two necessary attributes for the challenges of today and for the development of compassion.

“So, do it. Decide. Is this the life you want to live? Is this the person you want to love? Is this the best you can be? Can you be stronger? Kinder? More Compassionate? Decide. Breathe in. Breathe out and decide”

~ Meredith Grey

“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

Our work is clear – to use our spiritual practices and principles to develop a sense of radical self-honesty and compassion, first within ourselves, and then out into the world. We have these abilities, these qualities, within us as latent possibilities. It is time for them to emerge in ever greater ways so that we can co-create the things we want:

To live a good life

#AWorldThatWorksForEveryone

#TheBeloved Community

As always, your comments are welcomed. Please share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I will be speaking at the Spiritual Center of the Desert LINK CSLPalmDesert.org) on Sunday Aug 29 at 10am PDT – livestream at the link.

I will be speaking at the Center for Spiritual Living Simi Valley LINK https://cslsimi.org/ on Wedneday Sept 1 at 7:00pm PDT – livestream at the link or on their Facebook page.

I will be speaking the the Global Truth Center in Westlake Village, CA LINK: https://www.globaltruthcenter.org/ on Sunday Sept 5 at 10am PDT – livestream at the link.

HOW TERRIBLY STRANGE TO BE 70

“The fates lead him who will; him who won’t they drag.” 

~ Joseph Campbell

The famous line from the Simon & Garfunkel song “Old Friends” has finally come upon me (LINK). I was 18 or 19 the first time I heard it, on the “Bookends” album on 8-Track cassette as a student at the University of Maryland. Seems like yesterday, or earlier this morning, to me now.

We are funny about aging in our culture. We deny it, ignore it, fear it, loathe it, and sometimes, we long for it. When it comes, as it inevitably does, we are surprised by it, as I was at the number of old men who attended my 50th high school reunion two years ago. I was even more surprised by the twenty percent of the graduating class of 1969 who were on the in memorium board. I looked it up and the statistics were about right.

We are funny about a lot of things in our culture, as Lillian Schneider points out below. While we have our individual quirks, preferences, and tendencies, we tend to be more a part of the collective than we may want to admit.

“Single people want relationships, settled people wonder if they’re missing out on something, traveling types miss stability, stable ones are restless, old friends want new friends, new friends miss old friends, and basically almost everyone my age has some dangling worry trailing around after them everywhere that they’re somehow not doing everything, that what they’re doing is not altogether the right thing, that they are missing out. … Do not be ashamed. The doubt is natural, and everyone you know – yes, even that person – carries it sometimes too. Allow yourself to be peaceful. Allow yourself satisfaction in what you have. If you really don’t like it, allow yourself permission to make changes.”

~ Lillian Schneider

If I have any wisdom to impart due to my longevity, it would be to pay attention to what Joseph Campbell said in that opening quote. The fates he speaks of are our own inner fates – who we came here to be as Dr. Gary Simmons puts it so uniquely and so well. When we fail to be who we came here to be, either because we never really discover who that is, or because we do discover it and resist embodying and expressing it for some reason, it makes for an unhappy life. Campbell speaks of living joyfully in the sorrows of the world, and he is right about that, too. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can learn to live in joy – not by ignoring the suffering, but by realizing our own worth and making ourselves able to do something about it. That’s a tall order, but an increasingly essential one.

The main influences on me, aside from relatives and friends, have been Joseph Campbell, Ernest Holmes, and Carl Jung. I would include the branches which have emerged from each of them, so others as well. They helped me to realize my own power and my own limitations and gave me ways to heal what needed healing within me (still a work in progress). For me, the greatest healings have come via teaching and writing, ostensibly for others, but for myself most of all. We do teach what we need to learn if we are wise enough to realize that path. An elder once told me that the purpose of the Science of Mind teaching was to learn how to die. He said that the teaching did that by teaching us how to live fully by realizing our divine nature and that we have everything we need within us.

“The great secret is to embody something essential in our lives. Then, undefeated by age, we can proceed with dignity and meaning, and, as the end approaches, be ready ‘to die with life’. For the goal of old age is not senility, but wisdom.”

~ Anthony Stevens

Now, at 70, I am very healthy for my age, on no medications so far, fortunately. I am noticing general aches and pains on a more regular basis, my memory is becoming a bit less dependable than it was earlier in life, it’s time to get new glasses, I wear hearing aids, and I have never been happier. Well, I was pretty happy as a young boy, blessed with imperfect parents who were perfect about letting me know they loved me. But I know that my memories of those times are selective.

Ernest Holmes wrote that there is no such thing as a mistake, an often-misunderstood idea. What he meant, I believe, is that every choice we make has consequences and that we are always at choice to move in a different direction. This idea was reinforced in the book “The Power of Decision” by Raymond Charles Barker. We are always in the flow of life and each decision is a choice as to how to move forward. Also, to know that indecision is a decision to stay in place (which is actually impossible). We are best served by combining being decisive with the deep inner work necessary to support making wise and compassionate decisions more of the time.

I have come to believe that if there is a secret to a fulfilling life, it is to find ways to live authentically, in joy, AND to be a force for good in the world. To live joyfully in the sorrows of the world is to find your inner, authentic sense of self and to develop meaningful ways to contribute to the greater good. When we sacrifice ourselves to too great a degree or when we live selfish, detached lives, we are out of balance.

Another bit of wisdom from Joseph Campbell which has also been misunderstood, is to follow your bliss. Joseph defines bliss as that inner authenticity, the divine nature at the depth of our being. When we bring that forward and live from it, our lives have meaning and purpose. It takes lots of inner work to find and follow your bliss.

“You will evolve past certain people. Let yourself.”

~ Mindy Hale

I hope that you continue to evolve – to grow in your capacities for wisdom and compassion. That is the goal, if there is a goal in this life: to be fully expressed as an authentic version of yourself, living from a being state of connection and a healthy self-concept. That has been my path, imperfectly trodden to be sure, but my north star has been what Holmes, Campbell, Jung, and others have described. You will know when you are on the path and you will know when you have strayed or gotten stuck. Pay attention to those signals, which come from your soma (body) and your emotions.

“One great thing about growing old is that nothing is going to lead to anything. Everything is of the moment.”

~ Joseph Campbell

How terribly strange to be 70. How terribly wonderful to come to terms with the aging process; to learn how to die by learning how to live fully. To release the striving for money, fame, respect, attention, or anything else. To be in what Carl Jung called the second adulthood – a place of being, not a place of striving.

As always, your comments are welcomed. Please share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

SHOULD I GET VACCINATED? SPIRITUAL FREEDOM AND COMPASSION

“We all wish to be free, but at the same time we should realize that liberty is not license. To say that we are free with the freedom of God does not mean that we are free to do that which contradicts the Divine nature. We are free only in that freedom which God is – the freedom to be alive, to enjoy living, to enter into the activities of everyday living with enthusiasm and interest.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Richer Living (1953), p. 64.1

We are in a time of great challenge. Each of us is being challenged to face increasing uncertainty, too often in a complex environment where it is difficult to know who or what to trust. Between the global climate crisis, the ongoing COVID Pandemic, and the increased politicization of both, there is a lot of taking sides vs. sincere investigation. There is also a lot of vitriol and animosity vs. compassion and consideration. And I include our New Thought members in this statement.

I have seen people use quotes or describe New Thought principles to justify any number of positions about the issues of the day and how we should be responding. While this is nothing new, we New Thoughters tend to value independence of thought, the levels of animosity and condemnation have grown. I have seen more people “unfriend” of disconnect from others on social media. I imagine as our centers and churches reopen for in-person activities this problem may surface there as well.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”

~ David Foster Wallace, This is Water

I have seen people use the concept of “freedom” or “absolute choice” to support positions for and against vaccinations, for example. I have seen people post that each of us is 100% responsible for what happens to us, which usually features a statement such as “all you have to do is know the truth.”

While I can attest to the truths of such statements, they represent oversimplified understanding of some of our basic spiritual principles. The quote from Dr. Ernest Holmes above speaks to this – that freedom is not license. Our choices have consequences. And none of us is ever completely independent of the collective consciousness of our family, community, society, nation, etc., not to mention our own subconscious conditioning. If our choice is lacking in compassion, it is off the mark.

“The whole purpose of Buddhist psychology, …is the discovery that freedom and joy are possible in the face of the sufferings of human life. By neither grasping nor resisting life, we can find wakefulness and freedom in the midst of our joys and sorrows.”

~ Jack Kornfield

This Buddhist perspective is echoed in my favorite principle of Joseph Campbell – to live joyfully in the sorrows of the world. This is another principle not to be taken simplistically. It means that we must accept that the world is full of sorrows, impermanence, and loss, but as we come to accept that, we can live in joy. When we grasp (insisting that our life work all the time with no problems) or resist (practicing avoidance of legitimate pain, living in denial, or dwelling in magical thinking), we rob ourselves of the possibility of joy. True joy can only come from seeing oneself as part of the larger society and by growing in compassion for the well-being of others and contributing to the greater good.

Many have decided to contribute to the greater good by being vaccinated against COVID. Many of us did this despite some degree of fear. Some did it strictly for self-preservation, others out of a sense of oneness with the larger community. Some have refused or resisted because of fears, or because their political pundits have told them to, or because of a lack of trust in any institutions. To me, being vaccinated is in the spirit of Dr. Holmes’ opening quote and it is a compassionate choice and a courageous one for many. I understand that there is a choice not to be vaccinated, but I do not see how that choice can be considered compassionate. Perhaps, if that is the choice you have made, you can enlighten me in the comments section.

“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

“I no longer have any intention of sacrificing my life, time, my freedom, and the adolescence of my daughters, as well as their right to study properly, for those who refuse to be vaccinated. This time you stay at home, not us.”

~ French President Emmanuel Macron on initiating a Pass Sanitaire*

‎”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 behaviour 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

What is so often lacking in our discourse today, perhaps due in part to the nature of social media, is generosity of spirit. To be able to disagree without condemnation of the other, but with meaningful boundaries is a critical skill to develop. President Macron, using strong language, is being a compassionate leader by taking a strong stand for the well-being of everyone in France, as the reality is that COVID is spreading most virulently and creating new variants almost entirely via the unvaccinated. The fact that some disagree with him does not mean he is not compassionate. Compassion does not require unanimity nor even agreement; it requires a very developed form of love.

None of us know what the future holds, and the even horizon grows ever closer. If we do not face that uncertainty with courage, love, and compassion, we may make it through, but there will be little, if any joy in the process.

“If I had ever been here before I would probably know just what to do
Don’t you?
If I had ever been here before on another time around the wheel
I would probably know just how to deal
With all of you”

~ Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young, “Déjà vu”

As always, your comments are welcomed in the comments section.

*Pass Sanitaire: requires people to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative COVID test to enter any venue in France with a capacity of 50 persons or more.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

HOW MUCH IS TOO MUCH? BREAKDOWN, BURNOUT, AND SELF-CARE

“What a load of responsibility we assume that we were never meant to carry.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Creative Mind

“My New Thought heritage carries a tradition of ‘seeing no evil’ and only ‘holding the High Watch.’ My professional status requires me to offer hope and consolation to those who suffer. My personal self is exhausted.”

~ Rev. John M. McLean, Unity of Nashville

In our determination to stay positive and to be a healing force for good in the world no matter what, we may just be burning ourselves out. This past year saw no letup in things to be concerned about; in fact, there was an increase. The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the pressure on just about everyone, especially those who have lost family members or friends and those on the “front lines,” the essential workers who have been maxed out by increasing requirements and decreasing opportunities for relief. Where there is pressure, there is often stress as a response. The US is seeing a sharp increase in violence, with data showing that many have used their relief checks to purchase guns due to increased fear in many areas. Reports show that depression and other mental and emotional health issues, already on the rise before COVID, are rising even faster.

During all of this, spiritual leaders have been trying to adapt to an online environment while maintaining some sense of connection with their members so that they could know where spiritual support was needed. The regular in-person meetings and conferences which help to sustain both spiritual leaders and members were either cancelled or put online, with the loss of the person-to-person contact and yes, the hugs, that are so necessary to our well-being. Indeed, as noted in the next quote, everyone in caring and healing professions has been stretched, sometimes to the breaking point, by the demands of our time.

“The way in which many of us in the healing professions carry this vast, impossible assignment of ‘fixing’ what is wrong in others is replicated through what Jung called the archetype of ‘the wounded healer.’ It is disgraceful that so many of our training procedures neglect this intrapsychic pathologizing feature, which lies deep within the soul of most therapists and drives many to anxiety, stress, substance abuse, and burnout. This unaddressed configuration alone, this engine of vocational identification, represents one of the prime Shadows of our profession(s).”

~ James Hollis, Ph.D., Jungian analyst, Prisms

The kind of person who is attracted to New Thought teachings is often someone who seeks personal growth and wants to be in community with other spiritual seekers. The teachings are positive and sometimes lead to students being driven by their own sense of insecurity to strive beyond what is optimal for them. This may include denial of illness or emotional issues. It is critical to learn how to find a balance between engaging with the world and self-care.

We overextend ourselves, pushing to grow and succeed. Then, when we are isolated and deprived of personal in-person connection, we suffer. In doing the wise thing and following scientific and medical guidelines and government rules, we placed ourselves at risk in some ways while protecting ourselves and others in other ways.

As Dr. Holmes wrote, we all too often take on too much responsibility. If this is our pathway, then we are doubly burdened when circumstances add to the responsibilities we are already carrying. Finding a balance so that we stay motivated AND healthy is important. None of us can answer every call to get involved. Much of my inner work these days is focused on finding what is truly mine to do, versus what is best left to others.

As we work to become more authentic, that is, as we move closer to our own soul’s agenda, we learn to let go of what is not ours to do and embrace what is. This means that we say no to some requests or opportunities, the ones which do not deeply resonate for us. We release the need to be a savior or to be seen as always willing to sacrifice for others. This gives necessary space for reflection, for relaxation, and for re-creation, the important aspects of self-care. When we are doing self-care properly, we have energy for what is truly ours to do. We must learn the value of the Sabbath.

“If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop, because our work is never completely done… Sabbath … liberates us from the need to be finished.”

~ Wayne Muller

Discerning what is “mine to do” is a great challenge for many of us. It requires deep work over time to grow in clarity about who I am and what I am about. It means learning to hold my own counsel and not leap to get the approval of others while remaining teachable. As I go through this process of growth and realization, I must come to terms with the reality of the choices I have.

“Remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally. If you want to take responsibility for your life, you must choose one of these three options, and you must choose now. Then accept the consequences. No excuses. No negativity. No psychic pollution. Keep your inner space clear.”

~ Eckhart Tolle

I suggest a self-audit. Sit alone and notice what is going on within and without – physical, emotional, mental, spiritual. Write down what comes up for you during this process. It has been over a year of not-normal living and it must have had its effects on you, many of which you may have understandably ignored or repressed. You may be hurting, depressed, sad, or less physically healthy than before. Rather than being self-critical, try a more self-nurturing approach of self-care. Find someone who will support you in a “recovery” program – just someone to talk and pray with on the telephone or over coffee as that becomes safe again.

My own process during the pandemic has been to stay close to home (no choice there), but to enjoy my surroundings with daily walks for self-enrichment and to stay in shape. My wife, Dorianne, and I have also enjoyed cooking together, trying new recipes, and we have tried to stay in touch with friends and family with regular video calls. I have continued my teaching online and she has her online teaching and consulting as well. I have also been transitioning more and more into retirement, as so many of my friends and colleagues are either engaging or contemplating. This adds another layer to what is going on in this unique time, but it is an important one, as are all significant life transitions.

“When I retired, I knew that I had to create a new life. I changed my manner of thinking about my life, moving out of the sphere of achievement, into the sphere of enjoyment and appreciation, relaxing into the wonder of it all.”

~ Joseph Campbell

So, continue to be positive, but remember self-care, remember to let others take on what isn’t yours to do, and give yourself the time for Sabbath – rest and care of the soul.

As always, your comments are appreciated! Please share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

A MATURE SPIRITUALITY REQUIRES A MATURE PERSON, PART 4

“We do not grow absolutely, chronologically. We grow sometimes in one dimension, and not in another; unevenly. We grow partially. We are relative. We are mature in one realm, childish in another. The past, present, and future mingle and pull us backward, forward, or fix us in the present. We are made up of layers, cells, constellations.”

~ Anaïs Nin

In Part 1 (LINK), Part 2 (LINK), and Part 3 (LINK) of this series, we have looked at what spiritual and psychological maturity is and why it is important, both for our individual development and mastery and for us to be able to contribute more effectively to the greater good. In this final post, we explore how we develop that maturity.

As practitioners of New Thought teachings, we learn that we think into the Absolute and, when we come to trust that process, we manifest consistently at the level of our trust. What I am describing as spiritual maturity is just that – coming into alignment with our deepest truth through spiritual/psychological practices. By alignment, I mean an integral connection and realization based on the development of trust (faith) over time.

Ironically and paradoxically, such maturity cannot come via a path based on the certainty of fundamentalism, or certainty. Our psychological and spiritual development depend on an enlargement of our consciousness which can embrace ambiguity and uncertainty. As a religious scientist, the only thing I can feel certain about is that the Law of Mind works perfectly. Everything else is subject to change, growth, misinterpretation, or the fact that I can’t possibly know everything about anything.

“To live authentically, we often have to leave behind the reasonable, sensible option, and learn to live with the pervasive uncertainty and, sometimes, the seeming madness of the unique path and calling presented to us.”

~ Keiron Le Grice

“Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is an absurd one.”

~ Voltaire

Doubt is not pleasant, but it is essential. Our ability to question everything without losing our center must grow if we are to mature spiritually. We must let go of our fear of pushing the boundaries of what we believe to be true or of what we have been told by others.

So, what do I have to know and do to develop spiritual maturity? Here are a few things:

  1. I have to know that I don’t know, and will never know, everything, or, really, much of anything. But that I can know enough to live my life more fully by tapping into the inner wisdom which lies deep within me and seeks expression through me. I can know that Spirit/God is already fully present within, through, and as me.
  2. I have to know and come to terms with the reality that suffering cannot be avoided. The journey to maturity will take me through some difficult experiences and realizations. I have a lot of repressed stuff or shadow to reveal and heal and that is both very rewarding, and very unpleasant.
  3. I have to know that my spiritual growth is an individual journey, but that I require others – as teachers, mentors, disruptors, foils, supporters, etc. to help point me to what I need to know and experience. This will come in forms both clear and helpful and also confusing and hurtful. I must learn to discern the difference.
  4. I have to know that I am a being with existence in both physical reality and spiritual reality and that spiritual reality is not bound by the boundaries of my skin nor by time or space. I need to hold a space in consciousness for the mystery and magic of Spirit, and to trust that my spiritual aspect contains everything I need to live fully in my physical aspect.
  5. I need to know that if I am to develop spiritual maturity that there are many pitfalls along the path:
    • As I develop, I may be seen as a threat or a disappointment to people important to me.
    • As I develop, my values will change, sometimes radically, shifting what is important to me.
    • Many if not most other people around me will not take the journey to become spiritually mature.
    • No single spiritual teaching or pathway is likely to meet all of my needs as I grow and develop.
    • My ego is sneaky as long as I have a lot of shadow; it will try to trick me into behavior which is out of alignment with my Soul’s agenda.
    • Conversely, until I have invited my intuitive knowing into my experience and accepted it, my Soul’s agenda will seem contrary to what I currently believe, or as too much for me to accept.
  6. I must do regular spiritual practices, deepening them over time.
  7. I must do shadow work, ideally with a Jungian or depth psychologist (LINK).
  8. I must develop a sense of self-compassion, never letting myself “off the hook,” but doing my work from an increasing sense of self-love.
  9. I must take a disciplined approach to this work, recognizing that it takes great courage, and commit to my own well-being as I work to bring my unconscious and conscious minds into alignment with my Soul’s agenda.
  10. I will find that as I progress in my development of spiritual and psychological maturity, I am less likely to feel the need to defend my opinions or to “correct” the opinions of others. I will come to take such things lightly, recognizing that the need to correct others is usually a way of not looking at my own limitations. Not feeling the need to correct is a sign that my ego is shifting to a more mature consciousness; it does not mean I do not care, it means I am growing up.

In closing this series, I trust that I am inspiring you to open and deepen your own personal inquiry into self-exploration at depth. We are talking about deep work, so it will not be for everyone (this series of posts has so far had a low number of readers compared to others I have done). You will know if it is for you. If you are unsure, give this approach a try and see how it resonates with you. If you feel increasingly uncomfortable, but know there is a purpose to the work, then it is for you.

“Do not seek illumination unless you seek it as a man whose hair is on fire seeks a pond.” 

~ Ramakrishna

“God is closer to us, the mystics say, than our breath. Closer than we are to ourselves. St. John of the Cross says, ‘We are in God like a stone is in the earth . . . already in the Center.’ There is no way to get any closer to God than we already are. The spiritual life, then, is not about actually coming closer to God but rather the realization of the communion and union that already exists, and always has, and always will, forever.”

~ Gerald May

As always, your comments are appreciated. Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

A MATURE SPIRITUALITY REQUIRES A MATURE PERSON, PART 3

“Crying out to Life, beseeching It to be good, has no effect whatsoever upon It; It already is good. Asking It to give you life produces no good results; It has already incarnated Itself in you, as you. But inward awareness unifies the intellect with Life and binds the personal man back to the Universal Presence. This is what is meant by spiritual understanding and realization.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “The Art of Life”

The alignment which Holmes refers to is essential to our development as spiritually and psychologically mature human beings. (Note that I will refer to this maturity as spiritual, but that includes psychological maturity as well.) As we noted in Part 1 (LINK) and Part 2 (LINK) of this series, a major aspect of spiritual maturity is bringing the individualized consciousness, from the depths of the Soul through the surface conscious mind, into alignment. To achieve this, we must come to accept paradox and uncertainty as elemental aspect of reality and of our lived experience.

Our spiritual and psychological development come via our encounters with aspects of life which are larger than the ego’s concepts, and the suffering which results from those encounters. This means that we often have to move toward greater discomfort in order to transcend a particular limitation we have accepted. We move toward enlargement, which is the design of the Soul, at the expense of contraction or statis, which are of the ego and fear. At the Soul level, the deepest level of our being, we are intermixed with the Universal Creative Mind (Spirit). Our Soul desires nothing short of us living our lives as an expression of our fullness with regard to love, wisdom, power, and joy. This Divine Urge never rests and is never completely fulfilled in any human incarnation – we are urged to express fully throughout our lives. This means taking the more difficult path more often than our ego would like.

“Soul-making is constantly confronting the paradox that an eternal being is dwelling in a temporal body. That’s why it suffers and learns by love.”

~ Marion Woodman

“To transfer our energy from opposition to paradox is a very large leap in evolution. To engage in opposition is to be ground to bits by the insolubility of life’s problems and events. Most people spend their life energy supporting this warfare within themselves.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

One paradox is that a spiritually mature person is likely to make other people uncomfortable. This is because the ego responds negatively when confronted with others who are more spiritually mature. We do not like being reminded of what we lack or of our limitations. So spiritually mature people are often shunned, diminished, even killed because of the threat to the status quo as accepted by the egos of individuals and groups. How then does one deal with their developing spiritual maturity?

There is an old Hindu tale which I heard via Joseph Campbell, who heard it via Heinrich Zimmer.

A fable tells of a tigress, pregnant and starving, who comes upon a little flock of goats and pounces on them with such energy that she brings about the birth of her little one and her own death. The goats scatter, and when they come back to their grazing place, they find this just-born tiger and its dead mother. Having strong parental instincts, they adopt the tiger, and it grows up thinking it’s a goat. It learns to bleat. It learns to eat grass. And since grass doesn’t nourish it very well, it grows up to become a pretty miserable specimen of its species.

When the young tiger reaches adolescence, a large male tiger pounces on the flock, and the goats scatter. But this little fellow is a tiger, so he stands there. The big one looks at him in amazement and says, “Are you living here with these goats?” “Maaaaaaa” says the little tiger. Well, the old tiger is mortified. He swats him back and forth a couple of times, and the little thing just responds with these silly bleats and begins nibbling grass in embarrassment. So the big tiger brings him to a still pond.

   So this little fellow looks into the pond and sees his own face for the first time. The big tiger puts his face over and says, “You see, you’ve got a face like mine. You’re not a goat. You’re a tiger like me. Be like me.” Now, that’s guru stuff: I’ll give you my picture to wear, be like me. It’s the opposite to the individual way.

So the little one is getting that message; he’s picked up and taken to the tiger’s den, where there are the remains of a recently slaughtered gazelle. Taking a chunk of this bloody stuff, the big tiger says, “Open you face.” The little one backs away, “I’m a vegetarian.” “None of that nonsense,” says the big fellow, and he shoves a piece of meat down the little one’s throat. He gags on it. The text says, “As all do on true doctrine.” But gagging on the true doctrine, he’s nevertheless getting it into his blood, into his nerves; it’s his proper food. It touches his proper nature. Spontaneously, he gives a tiger stretch, the first one.

   A little tiger roar comes out—Tiger Roar 101…. The big one says, “There. Now you’ve got it. Now we go into the forest and eat tiger food.” . . . life lives on lives. Now, of course, the moral is that we are all tigers living here as goats. The right hand path, the sociological department, is interested in cultivating our goat-nature. Mythology, properly understood as metaphor, will guide you to the recognition of your tiger face. But then how are you going to live with these goats?

~ From “Reflections on the Art of Living, A Joseph Campbell Companion” (LINK)

The question facing those who awaken is always, how am I going to live among these goats? If we expand the perspective a bit, we can also say that every one of those goats has a tiger within; and we can remember that we were among the goats, and still are in some ways. Certainly, it is the case that every human being has within them the full range of human potential for growth. So, we are all goats with tiger consciousness potential latent within us. When that potential awakens or actualizes, we have to decide how to live in the world from this new perspective. I suggest that the way is to live with compassion for yourself and everyone else.

There is no shame in being a goat, by the way. It is part of our developmental journey. But it is not where we were meant to remain throughout our lives. Our Soul seeks the fullest expression of our potential, which can only happen when we develop our being state to higher stages of realization.

Our experience unfolds from our current being state, without exception. A purpose of our spiritual practices is to deepen our relationship with the divine potential via our Soul and to expand our ability to actualize that potential. Our soul wants us to be our own version of the tiger, and the move through the goat-stage to something greater.

“My life is a story of the self-realization of the unconscious. Everything in the unconscious seeks outward manifestation, and the personality too desires to evolve out of its unconscious conditions and to experience itself as a whole.”

~ C.G. Jung, “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”

In Part 4 we will explore how to attain and live in a consciousness of mastery. Your comments are always welcomed and please share this post with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard