HOLIDAY MESSAGE: 2018 – INVITING THE EMERGENCE OF THE NEW

“The real miracle of Hanukkah is the fact that, even after the Temple was profaned, it could still be restored.  Who you are matters. What you need matters, and your intuition—the still, small voice within—tells you this, all the time. The hard part is making the space and time to hear it—but sometimes in the dark, it’s easier to find that one, tiny flicker that we need to follow all the way home.”

~ Rabbi Danya Ruttenberg

I am restating some ideas from my holiday post last year (LINK), and adding some new stuff, too. May this last part of December be a time of new ideas and a birthing of the best version of you to bring to the world in 2018.

Christmas - Peace Wreath

“If it is useful to do so, you must abandon your identity and start again. Sometimes, it’s the only way. Set fire to your old self. It’s not needed here. It’s too busy shopping, gossiping about others, and watching days go by and asking why you haven’t gotten as far as you’d like. This old self will die and be forgotten by all but family, and replaced by someone who makes a difference. Your new self is not like that. Your new self is the Great Chicago Fire—overwhelming, overpowering, and destroying everything that isn’t necessary.”

~ Julien Smith 

As we move through the final two weeks of 2017, it is time to look forward to 2018 and to set the stage for who we will be when that New Year dawns. Spiritual work is best done in advance. When we lay the groundwork of building consciousness over time, our strengths are made available when the inevitable challenge or crisis comes.

“One doesn’t discover new lands without consenting to lose sight, for a very long time, of the shore.”

~ André Gide

Ours is to find ways to allow the innate wholeness of ourselves to emerge. We turn our gaze inward to do our own house cleaning before casting judgement on others. We take accountability for our reactions, our responses, our thoughts and feelings.

“So perhaps change is less about fixing a broken world and more about uncovering hidden wholeness in all events, all organizations and all people and remembering our personal power to make a difference. This old story has greatly changed the way that I am a physician and also a teacher. It has given me new eyes. Everyone and everything has in it a seed of a greater wholeness, a dream of possibility. Perhaps what I once saw as ‘broken’ or ‘lacking’ might just as easily be seen as the growing edge of things … a place to be valued and nurtured in our patients, our students and in ourselves.”

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

hanukkah

Humanity is bursting at the seams with the new. Our old ways need to be released like the snake releases its skin. A radical newness is emerging, and we must adapt radically to midwife it into being. We need visionaries who can see the possibilities and help to bring them through the veil from potential to actuality. Anything that holds us to the old ways delays emergence of the new. We must transform ourselves from the inside out, creating a space of invitation for a new way of being.

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

~ Joseph Campbell

This has been a difficult year for many, as every year is. It has also been a year of blessings for many, as every year is. But 2017 also saw more than its share of loss, tragedy, fear, and ignorance. What is ready to be shed is rising into visibility – racism, sexism, misogyny, radical nationalism – all expressions of fear and separationWomen are rising. There is much work to do to right the ship of humanity.

Edgewalkers: “Shhhh! She is traveling between worlds right now. You can see her holding the tension of not knowing ~ she is simply breathing into her unanswered questions. Sometimes she wakes up with quaking hands, not knowing where her relationship or her bank account is going. But this time, she is holding onto the tension of not knowing, and is not willing to hit the panic button. She is unlearning thousands of years of conditioning. She is not being split between the opposing forces of fight and flight. She is neither naïve nor ignorant. She is a frontier woman, paving new roads & making new choices. She is willing to make a new transcendent possibility emerge. You may see her now ~ standing at thresholds, or at crossroads ~ breathing into her body ~ intently listening for inner signals. She’s learning new navigation skills as she arrives at a most magical moment of her life.”

 ~ Sukhvinder Sircar

We are ready for this, or it would not have come. Emergence can only happen through a vessel that is ready for it. As we come to accept this truth, we call forth our courage, our love, our compassionate hearts. We express generously to those in fear and we support everyone it is within our power to uplift. We are the generation where the shift from automatic evolution to conscious evolution occurs – it is us. We really are the ONES WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR.

“Conscious Evolution signals the evolution of evolution itself from an unconscious to conscious choice. It has occurred in our generation because humanity has gained the power to destroy the world, or to co-create cultures of immeasurable possibilities. It means that we are becoming conscious of our effect on evolution and must learn to guide our new powers toward a life-affirming future.”

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard

My prayer for you and for us:

I am knowing that those who have the capacity to awaken, awake.

That those who become aware of their own shadow, do the work.

That those who have the capacity for compassionate action, act.

That those who can teach compassion and love, teach.

That those who are ready to hear, listen.

That we are transformed by our thoughts and feelings of beauty, love, peace and possibility.

That THE BELOVED COMMUNITY is nurtured into being.

That I am being, doing, and having my share of Awakening Humanity to its Spiritual Magnificence!

And so, it is.

 

“I can’t understand why people are frightened of new ideas. I’m frightened of the old ones.”

~ John Cage

 

Sorrow prepares you for joy.

It violently sweeps everything out of your house, so that new joy can find space to enter.

It shakes the yellow leaves from the bough of your heart, so that fresh, green leaves can grow in their place.

It pulls up the rotten roots, so that new roots hidden beneath have room to grow. Whatever sorrow shakes from your heart, far better things will take their place.

~ Rumi

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

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THRIVING SKILL: POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 2

“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break–and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces. With growing maturity, the individual is able to avoid the extreme of either polarity, so that the pendulum does not gain too much momentum by swinging too far to the right only to come crashing back to the left in a relentless cycle of action and reaction, inflation and depression. Rather one recognizes that these poles are the domain of the gods, the extremes of black and white. To identify with one or the other can only lead to plunging into its opposite. The ratio is cruelly exact. The further I move into the white radiance on one side, the blacker the energy that is unconsciously constellating behind my back: the more I force myself to perfect my ideal image of myself, the more overflowing toilet bowls I’m going to have in my dreams.”

~ Marion Woodman, “Addiction to Perfection” (LINK)

Here, the great Marion Woodman gives an excellent example of how to understand and use polarity management. (Link to Part 1 of this series) In dealing with polarities, we must manage them in the sense of staying in a healthy balance. This may be at the center at one point, and nearer to one side or the other at another. When we see such situations as problems to be solved, we invariably remain out of balance. A polarity map of Yin (feminine) and Yang (masculine) might look like this (there can be many more upsides & downsides for each polarity):

Polarity Management 9

Notice how the focus is to keep the upsides of each pole in play and to minimize the downsides – this requires being in balance in relation to the energies of both poles in the polarity relationship. 95 to 99% of the problems we are asked to solve in formal education are problems with a single right answer. Of the remaining 1 to 5%, virtually all of them are problems with more than one right answer that are independent. Polarities have two or more right answers that are interdependent. Our experience in leadership brings us a higher percentage of polarities.

  • It is possible to manage a polarity well. When you do, you maximize both upsides while minimizing both downsides. This helps you attain and sustain your higher purpose.

  • It is possible to manage a polarity poorly. This is what happens when the issue is seen as a problem to solve in which those in power are able to keep a focus on one pole to the neglect of the other. In a power struggle over poles of a polarity, you will find yourself in the downside of “winner’s” preferred pole. With polarities, over time, there is no such thing as win/lose, there is only win/win or lose.

There is, of course, much more to polarity management. I am just giving you a taste of the model so you, dear reader, can decide if this is something you wish to explore more deeply.

Here are the six steps to the polarity management process from Barry Johnson:

  1. Define the issue.

  2. Include key stakeholders.

  3. Build the polarity map.

  4. Understand how polarities work.

  5. Assess realities with this polarity.

  6. Determine action steps and early warnings.

In a spiritual community there are polarities almost everywhere. Here are a few affecting how the spiritual leadership thinks and acts (LINK):

Polarity Management 10

When these polarities are seen for what they are, the approach to them changes – becoming more complex and multifaceted. A longer view comes into play, since there won’t be a solution, as such. Polarity management moves you into the realization that you are in a long-term relationship with the polarities affecting your spiritual community. My suggestion is to read Barry Johnson’s book POLARITY MANAGEMENT (LINK) and to do some research for online resources on this important model.

Beautiful Flower - Water Lilly

“And the day came when the risk it took to remain tight in the bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

~ Anaïs Nin

Your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

I will be Keynote Speaker at a very special event in La Jolla, California – January 19-21. Please consider joining us! (Event Link)

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

THRIVING SKILL: MASTERING POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 1

“For every complex problem there is a simple solution. And it’s wrong.”

~ Unknown

Complex Problem

When things are not going the way we want them to, we are conditioned to see them as problems to be solved. In fact, in many cases, they are not – they are actually polarities to be managed.

There are, of course, some problems to be solved – such as getting the sound system to work for your Sunday service, or hiring to fill a vacant position. But many of the things which challenge spiritual leaders the most are polarities – and there is no solution – only the possibility of managing them in such as way as to maximize the desirable aspects (upsides) and minimize the undesirable ones (downsides).

“All the greatest and most important problems of life are fundamentally insoluble. They must be so, for they express the necessary polarity inherent in every self-regulating system. They can never be solved, but only outgrown.”

~ C.G. Jung

Barry Johnson’s groundbreaking work on Polarity Management (LINK to PDF) (LINK to book) brought us a very useful model for visualizing polarities and working to manage them in a positive manner.

“Polarities to manage are sets of opposites that can’t function well independently. Because the two sides of a polarity are interdependent, you cannot choose one as a ‘solution’ and neglect the other. The objective of the Polarity Management perspective is to get the best of both opposites while avoiding the limits of each.” 

~ Barry Johnson

A simple example of a polarity are the aspects of breathing – inhaling and exhaling. They are interdependent – you can’t do one to the exclusion of the other. You can’t just inhale or just exhale. An imbalance in the two will lead to negative consequences. Johnson developed polarity mapping to help see the interrelationships within any polarity.

Polarity Management 5.png

In this simple example, you can see and personally experience how the two aspects are interrelated. There are many polarities which exist in the world of spiritual community (and in many other settings as well). One that we often face and which I have blogged about over and over is the polarity of Stability and Change.

Polarity Management 6

You can see on this map that the upsides of Stability include Consistency and Predictability (there are certainly others), while the downsides include Stagnation and Apathy. On the other side of the polarity, the upsides of Change include Progress and New Energy, while the downsides include Inconsistency and Frustration. The flow lines show that both sides of the polarity are in flux and the goal is to keep the flow going so that the upsides of both sides are maximized, and the downsides minimized. This is clearly a more complex process than simple problem/solution management, but one that is critically important – trying to “solve” polarities just doesn’t work.

The value of polarity management is the expanded view of the dynamics present and the ways that they are interrelated. If the spiritual leader’s attention is toward seeing one or the other side of the polarity as a problem to be solved, she will miss the opportunities to see the interrelationships which need to be managed. The result is likely to be a greater presencing of the downsides of both sides of the polarity. You can see this in the maps below.

The more complexity present, the more valuable polarity management becomes. Things come into view more quickly and can be managed in a direction which optimizes the upsides. The issues which are polarities cannot be solved, and there is an ongoing process of management – what works to optimize upsides today may not work tomorrow. There is a recognition of an ongoing dynamic process, with each side of the polarity contributing to the successful implementation of strategies toward the goal. So, it’s not change against stability – it is the balancing of the two to optimize the upsides of both moving forward.

“Instead of contradicting each other’s view, the task is to supplement each other’s view in order to see the whole picture. Each of them has key pieces to the puzzle. Paradoxically, opposition becomes resource.” 

~ Barry Johnson

In our increasingly complex world, Polarity Management is one more tool in the kit of an evolutionary leader. In Part 2 of this series, I will explore some other examples of polarities present in spiritual community and ministry and go into some more detail about the model itself.

Polarities Statement

“Peace does not mean an absence of conflict, because opposition, polarity and conflict are natural and universal laws.”
~ Bryant McGill

Your comments are always welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

A TIME FOR HEART-CENTERED COURAGE, STRENGTH, AND PERSONAL TOUGHNESS

“Tough times never last, but tough people do.”

~ Robert Schuller

For many people on our planet today, times are tough. Even in the United States, among the most prosperous nations on earth, many are suffering in serious ways – from poverty, disease, discrimination, and the like. Others are finding the political turmoil of current times to be very difficult to live with – they are feeling increasingly hopeless.

We can look at all kinds of reasons for this – but that is not the point of this post. What I wish to address here is how to apply New Thought spiritual principles to our lives at times like these – including being careful how we label such times. We are in the midst of vast emerging change driven by cultural evolution. It is critical that we stay deeply and consciously rooted in our spiritual nature so that we remain strong and effective in directing our lives.

“Love takes off the masks that we fear we cannot live without and know we cannot live within. I use the word love here not merely in a personal sense but as a state of being, or a state of grace —not in the infantile American sense of being made happy but in the tough and universal sense of quest and daring and growth.”

~ James Baldwin

There is more to you than meets the eye; more than you can even imagine. You are born out of and remain within an Infinite Spirit and your good, your peace of mind, are not determined by external factors, by who is in what political office, unless you allow them to be.

whitelion

New Thought teachings are about the realization of an empowerment, a birthright, which has always existed and never been diminished. It is not a teaching about how to hide from harsh conditions – it is a teaching about how to transcend them by transforming consciousness.

“Stop worrying about your identity and concern yourself with the people you care about, ideas that matter to you, beliefs you can stand by, tickets you can run on. Intelligent humans make those choices with their brain and hearts and they make them alone. The world does not deliver meaning to you. You have to make it meaningful…and decide what you want and need and must do. It’s a tough, unimaginably lonely and complicated way to be in the world. But that’s the deal: you have to live; you can’t live by slogans, dead ideas, clichés, or national flags. Finding an identity is easy. It’s the easy way out.”

~ Zadie Smith

There are, of course, times when we are seriously wounded, times when a retreat is necessary for healing, however, such times are relatively rare when you think about it. I hear people saying they just want to go and hide until everything is better. These voices are more numerous today, driven by the antics of the current administration in Washington, or by some other more localized difficulty. These issues do not warrant hiding or retreating, they warrant standing in our full power and integrity. We are all capable of crafting creative change in our systems – all of them. This requires the deep realization of inner strength and a practice of being in dominion emotionally – even on Facebook and Twitter.

“People need to be encouraged. People need to be reminded of how wonderful they are. People need to be believed in—told that they are brave and smart and capable of accomplishing all the dreams they dream and more. Remind each other of this.”

~ Stacey Jean Speer

Most of life is challenging in one way or another, and we have our own devices to make it more challenging than it needs to be much of the time. It’s called self-sabotage, and it is yet another proof of our power over our experience, isn’t it? Metaphysics tells us that everything that comes into our experience contains the potential to bring forth something new and more useful from within us. What is being called forth from you in these times?

“Be patient and tough. Someday this pain will be useful to you.”

~ Ovid

Toughness is something that is rarely talked about in New Thought circles today (in my experience anyway). We talk about being loving and heart-centered and often speak of these qualities as if toughness were not an important aspect of their expression. I think that in trying to move away from the perceived authoritarianism of our past (and of our own personal pasts), we have become so non-authoritarian as to be largely ineffectual in the world – and, I suggest, this is also too often the case in our own lives. The pendulum has swung a bit too far in the opposite direction – there is little to no authority in our organizations today – and too little in how we practice our teaching. (LINK to posts on the Green vMEME) We are called to find a more balanced approach – to express our authority in ways that are both clear and compassionate.

 

“Your problem is how you are going to spend this one and precious life you have been issued. Whether you’re going to spend it trying to look good and creating the illusion that you have power over circumstances, or whether you are going to taste it, enjoy it and find out the truth about who you are.”

~ Anne Lamott

There are limits to our ability to apply our principles. We may not like to hear this, but it is the truth. Those limits may be conditional – I may not have developed the consciousness to simply think peace on earth into existence yet – but I suspect that many are more than conditional. I believe that we do not single-handedly create realitywe influence external reality, which we co-create with others. We are the sole creators of our experience of that reality. This means that we must find ways to cooperate with others to change things beyond our individual capacities to heal.

The word courage means strength of the heart. Loving peopletruly loving people – are very tough – they do not abuse others and they do not allow others to abuse them. Toughness in a heart-centered person respects boundaries, speaks Truth to power, holds themselves and others accountable, and expects the best from themselves and others. They live courageous lives, which, when practiced regularly, becomes a natural way of being.

“We must combine the toughness of the serpent with the softness of the dove, a tough mind and a tender heart.”

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

I question I often ask myself is “How does a student of New Thought refuse to engage the outer world when so much of that world is in pain?” Aside from personal fear, which is normal and can be overcome, how have we come to align with belief systems which propagate suffering and inequity, or which believe in scarcity and lack? How do we not stand for justice, help the needy, spiritually educate those willing? How do we bicker, argue, and engage in endless circular conversations on social media (including our list serves)? How do we fail to do our own spiritual practices in a rigorous way – leaving our fears not soothed, our wisdom and strength not energized?

 

I plan to focus the remainder of 2017 on crafting a new vision for my life in 2018 – to be more present, more authentic, more focused on being my True Self, and more of a contributor to the world around me. And to be a better husband, father, friend, and citizen (of the world). I can’t think of a better way to spend my time.

“You must be willing to change. You must be willing to break the deal you made with the devils within. You must be willing to leave the past and not be tempted to rebound when times are tough. You must be willing to let go of everything and anyone that takes you back to your mistakes. You must be willing to have hope. You must be willing to have hope that you can change and that you will and that you will be better. You must believe you are worthy of change and you are worthy of improvement and you are worthy of being the best. You must be willing to set aside your negative notions about life, about hardships, about people, about things, about yourself. You must be willing to stop feeling sorry for yourself while looking at the world move around you. Get up and make something of yourself.”

~ Jack Barakat

Your comments are welcome in the section below. If you find this blog to be of value, please consider following it – you will get an email whenever a new post is published.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

I will be speaking at a special event in La Jolla, California in January – the information and registration is at this link: http://lornabright.com/gathering/

Positive Gathering Jan 2018.png

 

 

SEXUAL HARASSMENT AND GRATITUDE – A HEALING PERSPECTIVE

“Sexual harassment is not an inevitability. The narrative that men can’t help themselves is insulting to men. Prove it wrong.”

~ Lauren Duca on Twitter

What are we going to do with all of these MEN?

A tsunami of sexual harassment and violence allegations is crashing the shores, with seemingly universal experiences of harassment by women. Prominent men are losing their jobs, having their shows cancelled, and being vilified in regular and social media. (LINK) (LINK) Very courageous women are sharing stories of wounding which are often raw and always sad.

We have a culture-wide problem, one that has been largely (and conveniently) veiled from general public awareness over the years – sexual harassment is a nearly universal experience for women in our society. And it happens over and over again. That we as a society could repress such a universal pattern of behavior – allow so many women to be harmed in so many ways (physically, psychologically, destroyed careers and reputations), and so many men to continue patterns of perpetration – to PREY on women, speaks to a large element of our collective Shadow. *

This is very much a man problem (LINK to my previous blog post). We men need to be better versions of ourselves, behave better toward women, become champions of equality in the best sense. We must stop empowering and enabling other men who are predatory. We must become more conscious of what it means to see women as equal human beings and to channel biological desires and patterns in healthy ways. Men in our culture have some deep-seated problems: 76% of all suicides are by men, with suicide being the biggest cause of death for men under 35. Yet, men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Men need to break the stigma and end the silence. Yes, we do.

“I have suggested that women look at men this way: if they took away their own network of intimate friends, those with whom they share their personal journey, removed their sense of instinctual guidance, concluded that they were almost wholly alone in the world, and understood that they would be defined only by standards of productivity external to them, then they would know the inner state of the average man.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian Therapist 

It is incumbent upon men to do the work to heal themselves, to support other men in their healing, to do forgiveness work, and, where possible, to make amends to those they have harmed.

But . . . what about wholeness? Are men the only people in our society? Can any organism truly heal without participation from the entirety of the organism? For that matter, can any organism become sick without participation from the entirety of itself? Can one party heal a relationship? I suggest that women have forgiveness work to do as well – for themselves, for other women, and toward men, individually and generally. For only through forgiveness can spiritual freedom be realized. And we must remember that in no case does forgiveness mean that anyone is relieved of their accountability or the consequences of their behavior.

The Shadow elements of our society are held by all of us. And while we may have inherited the patriarchal nature of western culture, the major reason for our current situation, we all have a role to play in our healing. Women are beginning to play their role by coming forward and speaking up in greater numbers and with greater determination than in the past. Men need to play the role of acceptance and active healing methodologies. Institutions, which are male dominated still, need to play the role of holding people accountable to create an environment of equality, safety, and good mental health (which, by the way, is also good for the institutions).

Pooh - Patriarchy

As Claire Dederer writes in The Paris Review (LINK) – how we view the issue and its resolution is key to the prospects for healing. In her brilliant and well-crafted essay, she gets the concept of the Shadow, without naming it as such.

“But hold up for a minute: who is this ‘we’ that’s always turning up in critical writing anyway? ‘We’ is an escape hatch. ‘We’ is cheap. ‘We’ is a way of simultaneously sloughing off personal responsibility and taking on the mantle of easy authority. It’s the voice of the middle-brow male critic, the one who truly believes he knows how everyone else should think. ‘We’ is corrupt. ‘We’ is make-believe. The real question is this: can I love the art but hate the artist? Can you? When I say ‘we,’ I mean ‘I.’ I mean you.”

“The psychic theater of the public condemnation of monsters can be seen as a kind of elaborate misdirection: nothing to see here. I’m no monster. Meanwhile, hey, you might want to take a closer look at THAT guy over there.”

~ Claire Dederer

The Shadow dynamic of projection and denial takes us into that “we” territory and tells us that it is okay to call others “monsters” while feeling no accountability ourselves. It may feel good, even feel true, but it is neither. Until we own what we have repressed, individually and collectively, we are at the mercy of those darker aspects within us.

And here it is: Thanksgiving week in the United States. What a perfect time to practice gratitude! We in New Thought recognize gratitude as a creative element. We are grateful in advance of receiving because we know gratitude in advance to be an attractor for our good. I am practicing being grateful for this moment of uncomfortable, even painful awakening, because I imagine the new ways of being to which it is leading us. That future good exists only as potential and it must be brought into being by a consciousness of high expectation, gratitude, and action. #TheBelovedCommunity will be created out of Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness!

Oz - Love Compassion Forgiveness Oh My

Has it occurred to you that this emergence of the sexual harassment issue is part of something larger that is occurring? Nothing this massive happens in a vacuum. We are in the throes of the emergence of a deep realization that much of what we have believed about ourselves and our cultural heritage is false, or, at a minimum, no longer serves us. We are seeing the denial of that realization drive political and social movements that seek to return us to a time before that realization began to dawn.

“When I was a student at Cambridge I remember an anthropology professor holding up a picture of a bone with 28 incisions carved in it. ‘This is often considered to be man’s first attempt at a calendar’ she explained. She paused as we dutifully wrote this down. ‘My question to you is this – what man needs to mark 28 days? I would suggest to you that this is woman’s first attempt at a calendar.’ It was a moment that changed my life. In that second, I stopped to question almost everything I had been taught about the past. How often had I overlooked women’s contributions?”

~ Sandi Toksvig

The nationalistic movements in the US, Europe, and elsewhere are, in one sense, attempts to recover a lost innocence – or, more accurately, a lost ignorance. People rationalize that all will be well again if we just get these reminders of our awakening out of our sight. Return the people of color to where they came from; promote policies that disempower women, especially regarding their sexuality and reproductive autonomy; seal our borders and bring back the old restrictions mentioned in The Bible. Then everything will be okay. Our treasured but outdated worldviews will no longer be threatened. All led by a serial sexual harasser who occupies the White House.

The resolution of each individual’s masculine and feminine natures is one of the great tasks of life. Learning to bring each of these basic elements of creation into balance within ourselves is massively demanding. But until we have done that – balanced what Carl Jung called amima and animus (LINK) within, we will project disharmony out into the world, most particularly into our gender-based relationships.

Our larger western culture has, for the most part, assiduously encouraged the denial of this task. We teach our boys to be exclusively “masculine” and our girls to be exclusively “feminine,” virtually guaranteeing that there will be an abundance of unhealthy relationships, not to mention, institutional biases against anyone who seemingly violates the rigid definitions relating to gender and its appearance. Jung saw this as a deep societal problem, as did Ernest Holmes.

“A human being coming from unity is both male and female, and has within both attributes of reality. In some the male predominates, and others the female.  We have two distinct types of one fundamental principle. There is also an intermediate sex. That is one in which it seems where the two attributes seem equally balanced. The greatest men and women of the ages have belonged to this type. For it is a more complete balance between the two, which really are one.”

~ Ernest Holmes, 1926 Science of Mind Edition

As we struggle to put the sexual harassment dynamic into context while dealing with fresh wounds and older wounds freshly exposed, we are called to attend to both the acute need to heal and assist others in healing, and to see and act upon the larger emergence of a new awareness. That new awareness, if cultivated with Love, Compassion, and Forgiveness will become a new, more healthy and creative way of being.

I am in gratitude, not because anyone was harassed or hurt, but because we can use the brave responses to these acts to propel us to a higher level of being. By staying focused on that desired outcome, visualizing it daily, I can do the work in front of me to be a positive contributor to healing myself, my own relationships, and, ultimately, my society. I will use the New Thought perspective on gratitude and healing as fully as possible.

Let us direct our thinking to high expectations of love, mutual respect, compassion, and creativity this Holiday Season. Let us take what we have been given and create something new and wonderful from it. Let us resolve to do better by ourselves and one another.

. . . for all tomorrow’s good
May rest today upon your gratitude,
For he who gives thanks before the wine
Is pressed from grapes still clinging to the vine
Has shown a faith above, beyond the present hour
And his thanksgiving holds the future flower.
~ From “The Voice Celestial” by Ernest and Fenwicke Holmes (LINK)

Your comments are welcome. Feel free to share this post. Have a joyous and a conscious Thanksgiving filled with gratitude for what has been, for what is, and for what is to come!

Sexual Equality Gender

*I am aware there are instances where the genders of perpetrator and victim are either reversed, or both are of the same gender. I will stay with the male/female description for clarity and brevity here, but urge all to remember that similar dynamics are valid regardless of the genders of those involved.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

THRIVING SKILL: BUILDING AND SUSTAINING COMMUNITY

“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being. Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We live in evolutionary times. I mean that in the sense that there are dynamics at work in human culture and societies which are driving change and, as a result, human development, at increasing speed. This has never happened at this pace in human history, so we have no direct experience from which to approach the challenges which have arisen thus far, and which will continue to arise. We are in uncharted territory in many respects.

Poster - Beloved

These times require evolutionary thinking:

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process…”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

The very meaning of what it is to be human is shifting as our relationships with technologies change our very biology, not to mention our psychology. Whereas we have traditionally needed religion and spirituality to guide us through a world which was static or slowly changing, we now need it to help guide us into a rapidly emerging future no one can predict. Change is the new normal, and whether we like it or not, spiritual community must be more and more about how to live in a changing world – and how to thrive in doing so.

What we have to offer as spiritual community is COMMUNITY – the ability to connect with other people for a variety of purposes which include mutual love and support and the provision of spiritual philosophies and tools to enable our members to live in the world that is unfolding. Through healthy spiritual community, one finds loving support, positive role models, and the expression of the compassionate heart. We are called into New Thought communities because we seek a greater vision of what is possible, because something within us is ready to be called forth into expression.

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Building and maintaining healthy spiritual community requires evolutionary leadership and a willing and engaged followership – those who are open to learning and to contributing to the learning of others with humility, kindness, and love. To be evolutionary is to encourage the expression of current potential and to invite the new into being. Such a community does not seek refuge from the world around it – it seeks to enable its members to thrive in that world and to contribute to it in positive ways.

“Particular to an evolutionary worldview we open to and exemplify what Teilhard de Chardin called ‘zest’ for the adventure of becoming.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

There are many ways to create community, from fostering small groups to creating long-term programs of learning, to practicing engaged spirituality in the larger community. The process of becoming the highest version of the potential within your community is ideally an organic one – it emerges from those present, then morphs over time as developmental growth occurs and as newcomers arrive and people depart. In other words, community tends to thrive when it is an inside-out process.

“I must search for the cause and not blame the effect.”

 ~ C.G. Jung

We often see a spiritual community grow rapidly and attract all the elements needed to thrive. Then, other spiritual communities ask the leadership of the thriving community to teach them how it is done. Books are written, classes are taught, speeches are given, consulting is offered – all about how this spiritual community came to thrive. Rarely, however, do we see the recipients of all this come to thrive themselves. The reason? Too often, we confuse effect for cause. It is not that there is not value in what is being presented, there is. The issue is that thriving comes via emergence, not via external input.

I believe that there are things spiritual leaders need to learn. But trying to learn how another spiritual community came to thrive via its own organic process is like trying to bail water with a tennis racquet. It is an attempt to reverse-engineer a naturally inside-out process into an outside-in process.

What spiritual leaders need to learn are the basic knowledge/skills/attitudes (KSA’s) to function in two areas: 1. The basic operations of spiritual community (or whatever form the ministry takes); 2. An awareness of models, practices, and KSA’s to lead a series of organic processes to develop thriving community in unique ways. Each group of people will create community in a different way. The process of developing thriving spiritual community will be unique to each group of people and the leadership present.

“If you want to bring a fundamental change in people’s belief and behavior…you need to create a community around them, where those new beliefs can be practiced and expressed and nurtured.”

~ Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

When I work with leadership teams or coach individual ministers, presenting mostly concepts from #2 above, I am usually asked about the HOW – how do I/we do this? We often want a cookbook-style recipe for success. When you look around at thriving spiritual communities, or at spiritual leaders whom you admire, do you see people who followed recipes? No – you see people who somehow created an atmosphere in which thriving spiritual community could emerge. Of course, these spiritual leaders have skills – but one critical skill they have, which they may not fully understand themselves, is how to invite emergence and let it unfold organically.

We create #TheBelovedCommunity when we align ourselves with the evolutionary process of emergence. The old ways are no longer our ways, and we should shed them like the snake sheds her skin – naturally. In adapting to the ongoing evolutionary processes which carry us forward, we become one with the radical nature of change. In doing this, we thrive in the unfolding newness. Change is no longer abrasive, we smoothly ride the crest of the waves toward creating spiritual communities which thrive.

“The Beloved Community is a collection of individuals who are learning how to love themselves, one another, and the universe. Regardless what name we give this idea, it is the same thing – the creation of the experience of belonging and experiencing the wonders of who we are individually and collectively. It is a place where purpose and passion meet, where we practice being the person we desire to be and support others in that effort. The Beloved Community is a strong attractor to those who seek spiritual realization. It is not a place of struggle but of continual progress toward a vision. That progress may have its ups and downs, but there is a sense of forward motion and of being involved in something vital.”

~ Jim Lockard, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY

Your Comments are appreciated! Feel free to share this blog as you see fit. Thank you!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

MY BLIND SPOTS, PART 3

“There is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle than to initiate a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order. This quality of lukewarmness arises partly from a fear of adversaries, who have the law on their side, and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”

~ Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

White Privilege -blind-spots

What do we do with our individual and collective blind spots? How do you deal with something that you are either unaware of, or once you discover it, you realize that dealing with it may be very unpleasant? If we take Machiavelli’s quote above, and we make all of the characters internal and personal, we can see the challenge. The reformer is in me, the defender is in me, the adversaries are within me. It is me that must be convinced to do the work of coming to awareness of the blind spots, and then doing something about them. Me.

This may also extend to a group – spiritual communities can have blind spots. So, can families, nations, religions. The work is always first within the person or group.

Ernest Holmes hits us in the face with one of his most profound statements, which was never officially published – maybe due to one of his or his editor’s blind spots?

“The difficulty we find in our field …is the difficulty of sincerity, the heart not acquiescing to the statement of the lips; it is the difficulty of using constructive rather than destructive conversation; it is the difficulty of not being able to see reflected in each other the symbolic Christ or manifestation of the Infinite, the Spirit. That is what heals – seeing the Spirit in each other – it is the difficulty which arises from a certain form of spiritual stupidity which we all have, a lack of faith, a lack of absolute conviction that now we have it and we can use it., the absolute simplicity of it – the difficulty of surrendering the mind in complete abandonment to the idea; that is hard. That means putting the foot out, as it were, into a vacuum, into a nothingness; but if the faith and conviction is there it will be on a solid rock.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Unpublished Papers

“Spiritual stupidity” – quite a phrase. Stupidity is beyond mere ignorance, which we all are of many things. Ignorance is merely not knowing something; it is cured by learning something. Stupidity is much more serious. To be stupid, means you have learned something and then refused to use it. In other words, you can’t be stupid unless you know better. Yet he says that we all have this spiritual stupidity. To cure stupidity, you have to act differently“putting the foot out, as it were, into a vacuum, into a nothingness.”  You have to take a leap of faith.

That is what revealing and healing our blind spots is – a leap of faith in the name of the Oneness of Humanity. How can we ever open the compassionate heart and co-create #TheBelovedCommunity if we do not take such a leap? If we are unwilling to subject all of our limiting beliefs to radical and rigorous questioning, are we not condemning ourselves to living limited lives? The “lukewarmness” described by Machiavelli is our own tendency to let ourselves off easy, not to push too hard, not to rock the boat.

Well, that isn’t working, is it? The world is filled with inequality of every description, all of it unnecessary and capable of being rectified if we, as human beings, realize more of our potential for love and compassion. Perhaps if we come to understand the need to recognize that we are in a liminal space, it will help us. Liminal space is the place between the old and the new, between one room and another.

We keep praying that our illusions will fall away. God erodes them from many sides, hoping they will fall. But we often remain trapped in what we call normalcy—’the way things are.’ Life then revolves around problem-solving, fixing, explaining, and taking sides with winners and losers. It can be a circular and even nonsensical existence.

“To get out of this unending cycle, we have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, into liminality. All transformation takes place here. We have to allow ourselves to be drawn out of “business as usual” and remain patiently on the ‘threshold’ (limen, in Latin) where we are betwixt and between the familiar and the completely unknown. There alone is our old world left behind, while we are not yet sure of the new existence. That’s a good space where genuine newness can begin.”

~ Richard Rohr

To be in transition from one way of being to another is to be in liminal space. While it may not be possible for an entire spiritual community or organization to completely devote themselves to the experience of being in liminal space, it is possible for us to understand that dynamic as a critical aspect of our process of transformation. We must set aside time, alone and together, to be in this unknown, this in-between place. To vision, to meditate, to pray, to contemplate, and to converse. Perhaps to engage in some artistic endeavor or to delve into some new reading or to go to a place that is new to you and experience it for the first time. We must do the work of releasing our attachments to the old ways, the old forms, and of creating a space of invitation for what is next for us to emerge through our consciousness.

For me to move beyond my blind spots involves a process of disentangling the aspects of my psyche and personality connected to and dependent upon them, perhaps unconsciously. I am dismantling a structure, not simply changing a habit.

For a spiritual community, this is a communal process. Each person doing their own work in solitude and then coming together to join in the often-painful work of communal transformation. Such processing must be carefully facilitated, preferably by an “outsider” or a trusted elder. It is a combination of hospicing and midwifing –  the alchemical transformation of the old into the new. This is Edgewalkers work (LINK), the process of cultivating change at deep levels. The status quo is in grave danger when such work is being done; and appropriately so.

“What’s the point of spirituality and religion if you are not going to be out on the edge?”

~ Jim Lockard

Many aspects of the status quo aren’t working, are they? And many of the aspects that are working, or appear to be, are interwoven with and supporting what is not working. If your status quo isn’t serving you, why are you serving it?

Work with your teams (boards, committees, congregations, book clubs, families) to develop the deep trust that is required for rigorous inquiry into blind spots. That trust is essential if we are to call each other out on our blind spots. This is a challenging way of being which requires deep compassion, awareness, and love.

Finally, the gift in blind spots is that they will lead you closer to your best self or best community if they are recognized and healed. As our great spiritual teachers tell us over and over, we must focus on what we desire, from a pure heart and consciousness, to manifest heaven on earth. Let us get about our work together. Let us create The Beloved Community that we know is not only possible, it is our birthright.

Victor Hugo claimed Galileo spoke to him in a séance:
“You know what I would do if I were in your place? I’d drink from the milk basin of the Milky Way; I’d swallow comets; I’d lunch on dawn; I’d dine on day and I’d sup on night; I’d invite myself, splendid table-companion that I am, to the banquet of all the glories, and I’d salute God as my host! I’d work up a magnificent hunger, an enormous thirst, and I’d race through the drunken spaces between the spheres singing the fearsome drinking song of eternity.”

Beautiful Woman Moon

Your comments are welcomed below. Thank you for reading this series!

Links to Part 1 (LINK) & Part 2 (LINK) of this series.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

MY BLIND SPOTS, PART 2

“Without much accuracy, with strangely little love at all, your family will decide for you exactly who you are, and they’ll keep nudging, coaxing, poking you until you’ve changed into that very simple shape.”

~ Allan Gurganus, White People

My Creation Myth/Story (LINK):  Your Creation Myth/Story describes how your natural genetic proclivities interact with your early environment to create your worldview and values. Think of your story as a jewel with many facets. What follows is a non-scientific representation of one or two facets of my story.

I grew up in a white suburb of a black cityBaltimore in the 1950’s and 1960’s. My family moved to the suburbs in 1954, which I would learn much later was called White Flight (I think they were just looking for a house with a yard for me). I was a free-range child, our suburban back yard adjacent to about 30,000 acres of forested land, some of which was actually in Baltimore City. It is all developed today. Other than school and little league baseball, I was completely “unprogrammed” and on my own to explore with my friends from the neighborhood.

There were no black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American children in my neighborhood, or my elementary school. My high school had five black students, four on basketball scholarships (it was a Catholic college-prep academy), and one other who had somehow come there on his own. Looking back, I can’t imagine what the experience was like for him – or for the basketball players for that matter. I honestly have no idea at all. I made my first black friend in college, my first out gay friend in my 30’s, to give you some idea. I lived in a straight white world for my entire childhood and adolescence.

White Privilege - TV Montage

Almost without exception, the men I knew growing up were some version of the character Archie Bunker from the television show, “All in the Family.” My dad was the only white-collar worker in the neighborhood; the rest were tradesmen or worked in factories. They had set beliefs about every group of people of every color and nationality. They even had prejudicial ideas about people in other white neighborhoods. Those beliefs and ideas ran in one direction – how we were better than “them, whoever “them” was. In most cases, it was taken for granted, especially with black people, but sometimes my dad had to make a more nuanced argument – like how most Italians were shifty, but the Italian neighbor up the street, he and his family were somehow different, as if proximity to us somehow made them acceptable.

“The most misleading assumptions are the ones you don’t even know you’re making.”

~ Douglas Adams

All of these beliefs and attitudes, spoken and unspoken, were woven into the fabric of my life. None of these men (the women rarely voiced these opinions, but many shared them) ranted and raved or, God-forbid, said these things to the faces of the people they hated (yes, they hated them). But it was there, pretty much daily. My dad loved baseball, and there were “players” and then there were “Negro players,” “Italian players,” even a few Jews – my dad said that Jews rarely played sports – everybody knew that, as the fictional, but all-too-realistic Archie Bunker would confirm a couple of decades later.

White Privilege - Archie Bunker

Something inside of me always knew that this was wrong, this way of thinking. My mom would sometimes speak up about my dad’s “excesses,” but he would say how he knew from experience. You didn’t push my dad on these matters. Any anyway, he did not stand out from others we knew, we just knew him better.

After twelve years of Catholic school, beginning during my time in university, I went on to be a cop for 24 years. The men from my youth were pretty much the same in attitude as many, if not most of the white men I worked with in those years. I had somehow become a liberal politically (actually, that’s what my mom was, and she opened-up in that regard after she divorced my dad during my first year of high school; my time in college also contributed). So, I always had a buffer from those parts of police culture that were prejudiced and very conservative.

These are the facets of my creation myth which apply to the conversation at hand. There are, of course, many other facets.

When I first heard the term “White Privilege,” I began to see, after some initial resistance, what I could not see before. I saw that my life, which I had accepted as “normal” and “average,” was anything but. I had no idea what the creation myths of others were from any sort of felt sense – even when I read or heard descriptions, I usually felt unable to relate in any way. That revelation made all the difference in my ability to see both the limitations of my worldview and the advantages my accident of birth had handed to me.

Why don’t more white people (whatever that really is – LINK) see the reality of white privilege? You have to be ready to hear something – or almost ready – for it to have a chance to sink in. When I was in my teens, twenties, or thirties, I would have instantly rejected the idea. I am fortunate that I can hear it now. I can understand why so many white people fail to accept or understand the concept of white privilege. For many, there is a culturally ingrained idea of white superiority (ingrained by home life and education – whom do we study?) and a belief that huge amounts of tax dollars in the US has gone to support people who are either naturally inferior, undeserving (i.e. lazy) or both. Even when you reject these ideas as too harsh when read or spoken out loud, they are often ingrained sufficiently to operate beneath the conscious mind.

In his recent blog post, “Why Do I Still Have to Explain #BlackLivesMatter To Other White People?” Minister and author John Pavlovitz speaks to a major blind spot of many white people in the United States:

“Saying it (#‎BlackLivesMatter) acknowledges the blind spots we’ve inherited that prevent us from noticing our privilege, our biases, how we unknowingly devalue people of color—and the way all these things conspire to make us much more tolerant of their deaths, much more likely to rationalize them away, and much more likely to get over them quickly.

When we say #‎BlackLivesMatter, we don’t need to also simultaneously say #WhiteLivesMatter to somehow model moral consistency. Our nation has lived morally inconsistent and that is the very point. That white lives matter in America has never been in question a single day of our existence, so we really don’t need to say it.”

~ John Pavolvitz (LINK)

I would put it this way: The creation stories of many white people do not allow the inclusion of true diversity and inclusion as acceptable values. Few of us have exerted the energy necessary to first look critically at our story and second, expand our story to a larger reality (LINK). Some have never had the proper influences in their lives to do so. As a result, things such as diversity programs, sensitivity training, #BlackLivesMatter, LGBTQ equality, and immigration of people of color are felt as attacks on the normal and natural order of things. Those we call white nationalists or white supremacists, say such things out loud. Others, even though they may sense the wrongness of these beliefs, still have them internalized to one extent or another as a felt sense.

In New Thought we teach Oneness, yet we sometimes fail to live what we teach. I often wonder today how welcoming and affirming I have been throughout the years of my ministry to those with different creation stories from my own. I want to do better, and I know by setting a clear intention and doing my spiritual practices, I shall.

‎”Diversity … is not polite accommodation. Instead, diversity is, in action, the sometimes-painful awareness that other people, other races, other voices, other habits of mind, have as much integrity of being, as much claim on the world as you do. And I urge you, amid all the differences present to the eye and mind, to reach out to create the bond that will protect us all. We are meant to be here together.”

~ William Chase

What is your Creation Myth/Story? If you are so inclined, share it in the comments section. In any case, I would like to know what you are thinking and feeling about this series. (LINK TO PART 1)

In Part 3, I will explore ways to facilitate moving toward greater inclusion in spiritual community in order to be supportive of the concept of #TheBelovedCommunity.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard