THE GUN DEBATE SHOWS US THE DEPTHS OF OUR ADDICTIONS

“An object seen in isolation from the whole is not the real thing.”

~ Masanobu Fukuoka, Japanese farmer

A mass shooting occurs. We are shocked. The arguments begin. They are the same arguments as before. After a few weeks, they settle down for the most part. Little, if anything changes.

A mass shooting occurs. We are shocked. The arguments begin. They are the same arguments as before. After a few weeks, they settle down for the most part. Little, if anything changes.

A mass shooting occurs. We are shocked. The arguments begin. They are the same arguments as before. After a few weeks, they settle down for the most part. Little, if anything changes.

The pattern above repeats, not just in terms of guns, but with immigration, with healthcare, with policing, with taxes, and so on. Anyone in relationships with addictive codependent aspects will feel familiar with such patterns – incident, argument, violence (or silence), apology and promise to change, repeat.

Addictive patters emerge as signs that healing is needed in the system and in the individuals within the system. In a relationship, these patterns are a sign of an ongoing largely unconscious repetitive process of ignoring shadow issues and their related fears. This unconscious process actually allows us to be surprised when the pattern erupts again and to expect it to be resolved each time it is repeated. Reasoned arguments are ignored or pushed aside in the name of abstract values such as “freedom.” But the emotional self is having a different struggle with its own sense of fear and struggling to find a way to control the behaviors of others so that the sense of self is protected.

“An addiction is anything we do to avoid hearing the messages that body and soul are trying to send us.”

~ Marion Woodman

So it is with the gun issue – it isn’t really a debate, because there is no intention on any side to truly listen. There is an unwillingness to deeply explore the inner issues of the population, the deep and expanding shadow side of American culture. Instead, this theater of the absurd repeats with the effect that little or nothing is done to heal. Each side seeks the high ground to force the other into compliance with its wishes, with neither being fully successful. Sound familiar?

An addiction to me is a distorted religion.”

~ Marion Woodman

The addictions which emerge as the argument about guns reflect deeply held addictions to being right and to control. As long as those addictive patterns have more strength than the capacity for reason and listening, nothing will change. Until there is an acceptance of the need for healing and a willingness to do the uncomfortable work associated with that process, nothing will change.

“Step far enough into the world’s injustices, cruelty and stark brutality, and they will hammer away at your idealism. They will even shatter your dreams of being an effective agent of change. However, if your vision is rooted in your heart, when the heartbreak comes you will feel pain, loss and deep deprivation, but it will not be the end of the story. It will be the beginning of a sacred transformation.”

~ James O’Dea

The courage needed to accept our accountability and to follow that acceptance with deep inner work to transform our consciousness from fear to compassion is what is required of each of us. Confronting our own inner stuckness is never easy, and few do it willingly. The current patterns of behavior of humanity are not sustainable and must be transformed. To meet that challenge will require nothing less than cultural and spiritual transformation.

If you want to be a part of that transformation, you must begin with yourself, because you and I are essential parts of the whole of creation. So, while you do that work, you must cease standing in judgment of others who do not live life as you want them to. When you transform yourself from within, your relationship to and with them will transform as well. Compassion is the only way forward.

“If you want to awaken all of humanity, then awaken all of yourself. If you want to eliminate the suffering in the world, then eliminate all that is dark and negative in yourself. Truly, the greatest gift you have to give is that of your own self-transformation.”

~ Lao Tzu

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

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

MYTH, TRAUMA, AND RITUAL: THE WORK OF THE SOUL, PART 1

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

Francis Weller (LINK) is, to my mind, a successor to Joseph Campbell who brings mythology alive and shows how it is relevant to us today. And like any good successor, he goes beyond the work of Campbell (a mentor to Weller), adding a deeper dive into the dimension of SOUL. Weller, like Campbell, was deeply influenced by Carl Jung’s work in myth, dreams, and psychology. This post is based on some of Weller’s work, particularly an article from Kosmos Journal which you can find online here (LINK).

Our work toward greater spiritual realization must go through ourselves, the unconscious depths to which we have direct access to, but no direct awareness of. I believe that spiritual realization is dependent upon alignment with our Soul’s Agenda, our deepest personal intentionality. The agenda of the soul is an expression of a Divine Urge to live fully the life we came here to live. Our lived experience often obscures this agenda, leading us to become externally oriented in an unbalanced way due to our conditioning. We find ourselves losing our connection with the intuitive nature of our being, our connection with our soul. The soul never ceases to urge us forward, however, we may build up an inner resistance to these urges in various ways.

This is why spiritual practices must go deeper than our conscious awareness, going beyond mere manifesting. Until we have created a deep consciousness of our own sacred nature and that of our universe, we will seek to manifest what we do not really need, including things which are harmful to our environment and our sense of sacred humanity. We find ourselves disconnected from soul and seeking validation from other people, status, or wealth. Our ability to lead a truly fulfilling life is diminished, as is our capacity to be of compassionate service to our communities.

The challenges we are collectively facing will not be met with superficial spirituality. We are called to change at depth – to become immense in the face of the challenges we are co-creating on planet Earth. The pathway to our collective healing takes us through the inner darkness – aspects of ourselves and our culture which most have refused to face up until now. Weller calls this process the long dark.

“We are entering the long dark. I use that term not negatively at all. I use it alchemically, that certain things can only happen in darkness. We are in a time of decay, a time of collapse, a time of endings, a time of sheddings. These are necessary. 

We are seeing this last gasp effort to try to uphold the old structures. Keep capitalism going. Keep the stock market inflated. They’re all going to collapse. They have to because the system . . . is unsustainable. Not only in terms of world resources, but just in terms of human capacity to endure that kind of emptiness.

The collapse is happening. I think what we have to do right now is ask ourselves and each other how do we become skillful in navigating our walk in the dark? How do we cultivate imagination? How do we cultivate collaboration? How do we cultivate fields of reciprocity with the Earth, within human and more-than-human communities, so that we’re not extracting more than what can be replenished? How do we cultivate the spiritual values of restraint and mutuality?”

~ Francis Weller

We are called to grow in our capacity for complexity as we grow in our connection with the soul’s agenda. This may seem paradoxical; however, it is the kind of balance on which all spiritual realization depends. The soul’s agenda contains both the intentionality of who we have come in this incarnation to be as well as the wisdom needed to fully be that expression. The capacity for complexity allows us to understand and integrate with the human world around us – one which grows more complex by the moment. It is the synergy of the simplicity of inner wisdom and the complexity of cognitive and emotional intelligence which allows us to live in mastery – to become immense.

“Along the way, I began to see the soul is here for the community. It’s not so much an interior project. There’s a saying that ‘the greater part of the soul lies outside the body’. If that’s true, then I’m actually ensouled when I’m participating. When I’m with the atmosphere, when I’m with the colors, when I’m with the trees, when I’m with my other fellow beings, that’s when I’m, in a sense, most ensouled.”

~ Francis Weller

“If we could unlearn this artificial encapsulation and the empty self and come back into that robust embrace of the soul, what I call our composite identity, then we would remember our wild entanglement with everything. Then I wouldn’t feel like I’m just in self-preservation, but I would be helping to preserve the living fabric of all things. That would be a holy obligation.”

~ Francis Weller

We need to rebuild our composite identity, this deep connection with soul as we cultivate an integral connection with the world around us. At the same time, Weller mentions trauma and ritual as essential elements of our coming into awareness. Trauma is a critical element in our lived experience and it must be handled with love and wisdom. Ritual is a tried-and-true healing element which has been practiced by every human culture to deal with collective and individual trauma.

“For hundreds of thousands of years, human beings worked through trauma communally through ritual practices. Ritual was the re-regulating practice after trauma or a death. What happens when we abandon those forms? Again, another thread of what the soul yearns for is dropped.”

~ Francis Weller

My concern is that, too often, our New Thought communities and organizations fail to teach the critical balance required for spiritual realization. We fail to challenge our students to confront their suffering, instead suggesting that suffering can be denied, or even avoided. Which begs the question: has any human life been devoid of suffering?

Rather that viewing trauma as an essential element in the pathway to spiritual growth, too often we ignore or minimize it, leaving people to feel shame when they do not easily overcome their woundedness. And as for ritual, something often minimized by Ernest Holmes, we have at best a mixed approach, too often doing ritual for ritual’s sake, failing to align it with what the individual or community is facing. Or, in some cases, avoiding ritual altogether, making the teaching purely cerebral and dry as dust.

We often ask why New Thought hasn’t grown consistently in the past half-century. Perhaps it is because it has become such a mixed bag of experiences, teachings, approaches, and atmospheres that is has no visible unifying presence – the felt sense of overall community at the organizational level and among the organizations is very tenuous at best. Have we become a modern version of the Tower of Babel?

The Tower of Babel by Peter Bruegel

What does the New Thought community need to do differently to foster the kind of spiritual growth and awakening needed to help our members discover and align with their soul’s agenda? How do we re-imagine, regenerate, and re-sacralize our approach to fostering spiritual realization as a healing vehicle for humanity? And how do we see creating #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone if we do not do these things?

“My faith is that we’re not trying to reinvent something. We’re trying to remember something, and when you’re in states that we’re in like right now, that’s what we can call upon. People are coming more and more and more to that recognition that the secondary satisfactions of wealth and power and prestige are bankrupt. As one of my mentors (Joseph Campbell) said, ‘Yeah, you climbed the ladder of success and you only find that it’s leaning against the wrong building.’ There’s nothing up there. It’s an empty promise.”

~ Francis Weller

Your thoughts are welcomed in the comments section and will form the basis of a later post.

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

THE BIGGEST OBSTACLE TO SPIRITUAL GROWTH

EXTORTION

I like to whimper, cry, complain,
and advertise that I’m in pain.
Extorting care and sympathy
is what I do quite skillfully.
When I am gloomy and morose
it’s ’cause I seek an ample dose
of pity and due compensation
for my pathetic, sad condition.
If with my wish you won’t comply
you’ll force me to pretend to die.

~ Tom Greening

The common answer in New Thought circles to the question “what is the biggest obstacle to spiritual growth?” is “myself.” While that is true, it is also the answer to the question “what is my biggest asset in seeking spiritual growth?” The self is the vehicle for all development or the lack thereof, so we need to be a bit more specific in answering the question.

I usually respond to the question about the biggest obstacle with “comfort.” It is our desire to be comfortable that often keeps us in place – even if we are not happy in our current state of being. Comfort is a sense of being minimally challenged. When we face the discomfort of changing, we too often sink into resistance, even though we may realize that growth lies at the other side of the period of discomfort.

Just as many join a gym to get more fit and healthy and then resist going, we may set goals for spiritual growth, commit to practices, and then resist doing the work. This may take the form of procrastination, evasion, denial, or by doing destructive things such as overeating or drinking too much as our ego asserts its power to keep us from changing. This resistance comes from a desire for comfort, or a state where we are not challenged or disturbed. When combined with ignorance and fear (usually the fear that we are inadequate), seeking comfort alone is especially dangerous to our development. We grow when we are uncomfortable, or in a state of Divine Discontent.

“Staying with the discomfort is difficult. The mind keeps darting off to avoid the feelings in the body, primarily by trying to analyze why you feel the way you do. But you keep returning to the breath in the center of the chest and the physical experience in the body.”

~ Ezra Bayda

Our body-mind-spirit collective is very skilled at knowing what is best for us and at sending us messages when it is time for a change. We, on the other hand, tend to be very skilled at ignoring or rationalizing these messages and staying stuck in some less-than-optimal ways of being. Our ego structure supports us in this, leading us to resist inner urges to change, even for the better. But do we really want to stay as we are?

“What if I told you 10 years from now your life would be exactly the same. Doubt you’d be happy. So why are you afraid of change?”

~ Karen Salmansohn 

We may be afraid of change – but more likely, we are afraid of discomfort. We are afraid of stepping into the unknown, of forming different habit patterns, of losing something that we currently possess, or we are in a state of mind which refuses to move beyond lethargy. When we ignore or resist the inner urge to move forward in our development, our physical and emotional selves react – we may develop an illness or deep fatigue, or we may become depressed or distracted. These are defense mechanisms used by the ego to keep us from changing. From stepping too far out of our comfort zone.

“There is no coming to consciousness without pain. People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own Soul. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.”

~ Carl Jung

By facing our own soul, Jung means accepting the divine urge to grow, to progress, to deepen our realization of who we are and what is ours to do. This deepening means dealing with greater uncertainties, with loss, grief, and transition. When we are confronted by deep inner urges, our resistance (which is automatic, driven by our current belief system’s take on who we are and what we can expect from ourselves), activates emotional responses in us, in this case, negative responses. The chemicals associated with negative emotions are destructive to our physical systems and trigger negative thinking.

To engage in a positive direction means working past the limitations of our current belief system and not listening to the ego’s mental, emotional, and physical urges to stay in place. In such situations we are called to extend ourselves with intention, courage, and commitment to a new way of being. We are called to take a leap IN faith to something greater.

“Every positive change – every jump to a higher level of energy and awareness – involves a rite of passage. Each time to ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, we must go through a period of discomfort, of initiation. I have never found an exception.”

~ Dan Millman

This discomfort and initiation may be intensely challenging and painful – but it is by accepting the challenge and enduring the pain that we move out of our stuckness and into a greater level of freedom. Courage and strength are required qualities; affirmative thinking, prayer-treatment, meditation, and positive acts are required actions.

We must accept and deal with the uncertainty of spiritual development if we are to grow. We never really know our interior spaces and can only guess at the future. Intention and spiritual practice help guide us toward what is best for us, but it is like a moving target in a fog. Spiritual mastery is about accepting uncertainty as the nature of things, while accepting the certainty that Spirit exists and is within us always.

“The quest for certainty blocks the search for meaning. Uncertainty is the very condition to impel (human beings) to unfold (their) powers.”

~ Erich Fromm

“There is nothing of which we are more ashamed than of not being ourselves. And there is nothing which brings us greater joy and happiness than to think, feel, and say what is ours.”

~ Erich Fromm

Whatever your current circumstances, you have within you a Power to change, to heal, to recover, to express, to engage at greater levels. All significant growth, or deepening, will be accompanied by discomfort, even pain. Our human psychological structure simply does not allow great change without inner resistance. Accepting that is a key to the ability to change and grow in amazing ways. As the poet wrote:

1. You must let the pain visit.

2. You must allow it to teach you

3. You must not allow it overstay.”

~ Ijeoma Umebinyuo, three routes to healing

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

Copyright 2021 – Jim Lockard

AS THE NEW YEAR CYCLE EMERGES: BURY THE PAST, BIRTH WHAT IS NEXT

“The cemeteries of history are filled with the graves of the dead gods… Astarte, Baal, Isis, Horus, Osiris, Jupiter, Thor. It is time to bury at least one other god, the god of vengeance and anger, a theological policeman whose beat is the universe, a heavenly trigger man, a celestial hit man who has a contract out on some earthly humans.

“There is a far greater archaeology than digging for lost cities. It is an archaeology of the mind, aimed at uncovering the foundations of the authentic city of the soul, covered with all the debris of conventional and antiquated religious systems. We must dig through, layer by layer, until once again each of us can experience in our own lives the fresh new spirit that speaks again ‘let there be light… and there was light…’”

~ William Edelen

All the wishes for a Happy New Year extended at the end of 2019 didn’t work very well for too many people. The unprecedented mix of the COVID19 Pandemic, toxic politics, climate change, and economic hardship combined with the trials and tribulations of everyday life have made 2020 a year many will want to forget. As we enter 2021, the mix continues into the new year with us, so we clearly have some unfinished business.

In our New Thought teachings, we learn that external conditions are the effects of the working of our minds – as within, so without. As we move beyond a basic understanding of this concept, we see that this is not really a linear process. I don’t get a cold because I was thinking about getting a cold; I get a cold because my thought patterns were cause to a weakening of my immune system, and the cold virus penetrated those weakened defenses. My thought patterns were likely about something completely different, but the accompanying anxiety or depression had its effect on my physical body.

“We are living in a Star Wars civilization with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and Godlike technology.”

~ E. O. Wilson, Biologist

I have no doubt that the issues that we face collectively have arisen through some creative process in which we are intimately involved. That said, each of us is having an individualized experience of these larger issues. The basis for that experience is our emotional system, called the limbic system, in our being – we were feeling creatures before we were thinking creatures, and emotions are key to our experience.

We may think of objectivity as exemplifying maturity, but that is not so. We are not and can never be objective beings. Our subjectivity is a deeper aspect of who we are. Maturity is, therefore, not a matter of becoming more objective, but of becoming emotionally mature or intelligent. Anaïs Nin says it very well:

“I opposed subjective to objective, imagination to realism. I thought that having gone so deeply into my own feelings and dramas I could never again reach objectivity and knowledge of others. But now I know that any experience carried out deeply to its ultimate leads you beyond yourself into a larger relation to the experience of others. If you intensify and complete your subjective emotions, visions, you see their relation to others’ emotions. It is not a question of choosing between them, one at the cost of another, but a matter of completion, of inclusion, an encompassing, unifying, and integrating which makes maturity.”

~ Anaïs Nin

When we enter a new cycle of life with unfinished business from the previous cycle, we are inhibited in our growth and success. The end of 2020 and the beginning of 2021 is an artificial moment in time, but it is a cyclical moment which we recognize emotionally. Dragging our unfinished business into the new year is never a good idea, and this year it may be more important than in other years for so many of us.

In such cases, we are called to change our minds at depth. This means going beyond the language of thought to the deeper feelings of having one foot in physical reality and one in divinity. The analytical aspects of our minds resist significant change. Our deeper aspects know that change is both inevitable and positive – as long as we are guiding it with a mature wisdom. Radical changes are needed for humanity to continue to live on this planet, and, perhaps to explore others in the future. Radical change means just that – the death of what no longer serves and the birth of what is ready to emerge. The signs that new emergence is ready are everywhere – but we cling to our current habits and lifestyles as though they can support us forever. The cannot, as COVID is showing us in no uncertain terms.

“Mircea Eliade states that it was probably the image of eternal birth and death of the moon that helped to crystallize earliest human intuitions about the alternation of life and death and suggested later on the myth of the periodic creation and destruction of the world.”

~ Demetra George

Creation requires destruction. Evolution is the vehicle of large-scale creation in our universe. Evolution means that something does not exist, and then it does. This radical newness can only occur when what came before is destroyed or radically reconfigured. Life exists because the necessary heavy elements to make it, which did not exist before, were formed in the explosions and collisions of stars and planets. To become an adult, the child has to die – clinging to childhood or to adolescence hampers the functioning of the adult and denies one the full expression of potential. We often fight this evolutionary emergence – and we can see today with the proliferation of conspiracy theories and the acceptance by some of only that information which conforms to their version of reality. This is living in fear and in such people, the soul is crying out for wisdom.

Mature wisdom allows us to direct this process of creation and destruction using our thoughts as the director and our emotions as the “engine” of change.

“You heal by bringing more mindfulness into the emotions that you feel.”

~ Lalah Delia

This new year and the years which follow are filled with challenges, many of them due to our own human behaviors. Like it or not, the work is ours to do, since we are the ones who are present in this transitional moment. Whether this moment leads to positive transformation or to rapidly worsening conditions is up to us, individually and collectively. We are thrust into a hero’s journey of great importance to humanity, if not to the universe as a whole. Our challenge is to see past our own blind spots and to realize the possibilities and not to dwell on those who do not.

How are you going to BE in 2021?

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

IS IT TIME TO TAKE A PERSONAL RETREAT TO VISION A NEW YEAR?

“Nothing ages so quickly as yesterday’s vision of the future.” 

~ Richard Corliss

I like to make it a practice to vision and spend some time in solitude during the last half of December each year. This year, I find that I am in a place of needing to do that very much and will largely unplug for 3 weeks from “business” stuff like committees, advisory boards, and the like. I will spend time with my wife and Zoom with family and friends, dabble on social media in a reduced way. I want to spend some quality time discerning what is up for me in 2021.

I find that coming to terms with 2020 is a difficult but essential task before moving on. Of course, the major issues of 2020 will carry forward – at a minimum, the global climate crisis, the COVID19 pandemic, economic inequality, and the strained political atmosphere will not cease to exist at midnight on December 31st. Nor will racism, sexism, religious intolerance, and so on. But this is the world we live in, and it is not subject to dates on the calendar.

“In an age of acceleration nothing can be more exhilarating than going slow; in an age of distraction, nothing is so luxurious as paying attention; and in an age of constant movement, nothing is so urgent as sitting still.”

~ Pico Iyer

One of the fortunate things about the way 2020 has unfolded it that, thanks to quarantine policies, solitude is easier to manage for many than in the normal year. Another fortunate thing is all the opportunities for learning about myself and my psychological and spiritual development that the year has brought. I am tugged from within to make some changes, and that is what I will explore during my personal retreat.

“It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” 

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

The goal is not to separate from humanity, from community. The goal is to realize my best self and live it in more aspects of my life. I want to engage more fully and compassionately. I want to be more present, more connected, more of a contributor for good. I want to savor the best of life and find the inner resolve to stand in the face of the worst of it.

Each day I will spend time in meditation and contemplation. Perhaps I will journal as well. I plan to walk in nature and listen to beautiful music, explore art and culture. Along with my private students during this time, I will re-read Joseph Campbell’s The Hero with a Thousand Faces and revisit some of the work of Carl Jung. All of this will be with a question in mind – What is next for me?

“Long ago the word alone was treated as two words, all one. To be all one meant to be wholly one, to be in oneness, either essentially or temporarily. That is precisely the goal of solitude, to be all one. It is the cure for frazzled state so common to modern women.”

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estes

I will vision what I want to BE in 2021, and how that will FEEL. What is ready to be born anew?

“. . . schism in the soul, schism in the body social, will not be resolved by any scheme of return to the good old days (archaism), or by programs guaranteed to render an ideal projected future (futurism), or even by the most realistic, hardheaded work to weld together again the deteriorating elements. Only birth can conquer death – the birth, not of the old thing again, but of something new. Within the soul, within the body social, there must be – if we are to experience long survival – a continuous ‘recurrence of birth’ (palingensia) to nullify the unremitting recurrences of death.”

~ Joseph Campbell, The Hero with a Thousand Faces, page 16

(a quote that might be good to forward to President-Elect Biden)

While the degree of schism may be greater in 2020 for many than in other years, the solution is the same – the birth of new thoughts, the emergence of creative expressions of good, love, truth, and beauty. These things can bring us to the realization of a greater expression of life for ourselves, and, when expanded beyond to our communities, for a collection realization. It is clear to me what my agenda is – to make myself available to this new birth without attachment to what it must look like.

I know that the year will bring opportunity, joy, and sorrow. It will bring challenges and frustration as well. I want to BE strong within and without so that I can bring compassion for myself and others to every situation. I want to listen to the small voice within to discern what it is that is calling to me. I want to be available to the transformation that calls to me from within – to be a lived expression of a New Thought Evolutionary.

“Step far enough into the world’s injustices, cruelty and stark brutality, and they will hammer away at your idealism. They will even shatter your dreams of being an effective agent of change. However, if your vision is rooted in your heart, when the heartbreak comes you will feel pain, loss and deep deprivation, but it will not be the end of the story. It will be the beginning of a sacred transformation.”

~ James O’Dea

Have a blessed Holiday Season and New Year. I am so grateful that you have chosen to share this journey with me.

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

MASTERY AND SPIRITUAL WARRIORSHIP

“We are all carrying the grief of the lives we thought we would be living right now. We are continually mourning our missed events, our changed plans, our what-might-have-been years.”

~ John Pavlovitz on Twitter

“When we find ourselves in a place of discomfort and fear, we’ll find that we want to blame, to take sides, to stand our ground. We feel we must have some resolution. For the warrior, ‘right’ is as extreme a view as ‘wrong.’ They both block our innate wisdom.”

~ Pema Chödrön

Life has a way of getting our attention, letting us know when we are being lazy, inattentive, or fearful. The inner wisdom of the soul continually seeks to bring the Divine Urge of being into our awareness seeking the fulfillment of the Soul’s Agenda. Joseph Campbell wrote that a human being is “protoplasm with an Urge.” The Urge is to follow the agenda: for us to live fully, authentically, fearlessly as ourselves. This Urge is insatiable, as the soul seeks to experience the Infinite.

So many of us resist this Divine Urge, always to our detriment. It is almost impossible not to resist it in some instances, as the soul does not care about rules or propriety, and it definitely does not care about pleasing others at the expense of our own authenticity. The soul demands our best and it wants us to be explorers of being fully alive. It seeks fulfillment without – in our physical experiences of life, and within – in our mystical connection with the Beloved. In finding fulfillment of our soul’s agenda, we are required to become radically self-honest and spiritually mature.

“We have a fear of facing ourselves. That is the obstacle. Experiencing the innermost core of our existence is very embarrassing to a lot of people. A lot of people turn to something that they hope will liberate them without their having to face themselves. That is impossible. We can’t do that. We have to be honest with ourselves. We have to see our gut, our excrement, our most undesirable parts. We have to see them. That is the foundation of warriorship, basically speaking. Whatever is there, we have to face it, we have to look at it, study it, work with it and practice meditation with it.”

~ Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

Spiritual seekers often avoid this essential pain by using spiritual bypass. They think that if they do not look at their problems, they will go away. They police their language (and often the language of others) for anything sounding “negative.” They would rather call the game “Goodminton” than “Badminton.” They may do a regular spiritual practice, but they stay in the shallow waters of the self, never delving into the depths where shadow resides. Despite being in a teaching that says that victimhood unnecessary in consciousness, they often celebrate victimhood and resent it when it is pointed out as unnecessary or something to overcome.

Recently on a social media platform, I commented on a question about connecting with the Divine by saying that I could see the divine in others but still keep reasonable boundaries and that I could call someone out for being out of harmony if they were hurting themselves or another. While there are a number of “Likes”, there were also comments that I was out of principle for saying such a thing. The implication was that if I am “seeing the Divine in another” that I could not also see incongruency in them and hold them accountable, I guess. What I believe is that I can be kind and still disagree with someone – or seek to hold them accountable if that is mine to do. A spiritual warrior would know that.

If you were arrested and charged with being a Religious Scientist, would there be enough evidence to convict you?

This old saying carries a great deal of truth for the spiritual seeker who uses The Science of Mind on their spiritual pathway. Adherents of other New Thought teachings can put the appropriate name in the sentence. It asks is there is evidence of your spiritual teaching in your life for others to see. It asks if you are an example of the teaching. Would it be obvious or would an observer be surprised to find the book on your coffee table or bedside stand?

The embodiment of a New Thought spiritual teaching is an ongoing journey with no final arrival point. There is always more potential for realization and experience. There is a deepening or mellowing process over time as one increasingly embodies the teaching as a BEING STATE. We gradually shift from being a spiritual amateur to a spiritual warrior. We move from a being nature that is largely fearful to one that is largely love realized.

“Love is not the overly emotional or passionate rapture we see in the movies. Love is the absolute absence of fear. When there is no fear, there is no need to justify or defend our beliefs. I cannot stress enough the need to choose love over fear every step of the way, because that choice alone marks the difference between resisting change (holding on to the past) and embracing what is happening and what is yet to come, while allowing your divine nature and true power of a peaceful warrior to emerge.”

~ Puck Arks

The warrior nature is our inner power. The amateur warrior is indiscriminate and largely outer-directed in her battles. She fights, resists, fears, is anxious and always on the defensive. As she matures, her warrior nature turns inward, recognizing that is where her power is and coming to understand that the real battles are internal – with her own fears and ignorance.

The spiritual warrior more deeply realizes his own potential and identity, whether we call that the Christ Consciousness, Buddha Mind, or enlightenment. He says “YES” to everything, realizing that if it is in his life it is his by right of consciousness, whether “it” is positive or negative in nature. The spiritual warrior does not turn from what is uncomfortable, does not practice avoidance, but engages fully with life in all its aspects.

The path of warriorship is the path of mastery. If we are to successfully navigate these increasingly challenging times, we will need to develop our mastery and our mature warrior consciousness.

“The movement from basic knowledge to principled understanding to embodied integration is the idealized essence of mastery in any growth process.”

~ Christopher Heuertz

The goal is the effortless expression of life from an embodiment of a great teaching. To live the Science of Mind in each unfolding moment because through daily practice it has filled our being nature so fully that it is the essence from which we automatically perceive and act. We never fully arrive, but the path is made smooth so that we see what is essential.

I want to live my life so that if The Science of Mind books were lost, they could be rewritten by observing me.

Copyright 2020- Jim Lockard

CHALLENGES REVEAL OUR CURRENT CONSCIOUSNESS – MASTERING THE SCIENCE OF MIND

NOTE: at the end of this post is an announcement for an upcoming class I am offering – MASTERING THE SCIENCE OF MIND

“What fresh hell is this?”

~ Dorothy Parker

I am aware of the range of emotions which so many are feeling this week. The energy has been building as the US elections grow closer and the pandemic continues. I must say, that as I explore social media platforms, I am seeing just about everything but joy. I am seeing sadness, anger, fear, lots of cynicism, rage, and so on. These feelings are largely due to the fact that we, each of us, regardless of our political loyalties (or lack thereof), seek a better world and are frustrated that does not appear to be happening – at least not on our terms.

I am not here to tell you how to feel – I have felt and am feelings many of the above emotions myself these days. But I am seeking to find that inner Joy within myself more and more. I am seeking the experience of being a greater example of the teaching I love, The Science of Mind. That is what this post is about.

“In the Science of Mind, we do not say everything is all right when it is all wrong. We do not say peace when there is no peace, but rather we try to discover what is wrong and why we do not have peace. We do not say that people are not poor, sick, or unhappy. We ask why these things should be if the Original Cause of all things is Harmonious, Perfect, Radiant, and Happy.”

~ Ernest Holmes, Living the Science of Mind

What challenges us reveals where we are psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually. But challenges do not reveal where we can or will be as we develop further. If we currently feel inadequate to the challenges we face, it is a signal to go within and call forth something new – greater love, strength, awareness, etc. Our challenges call us toward greater mastery of our teaching so that we might realize the greater Truth of our being. There is no limit to what is within us, but it cannot serve us unless we call it forth into expression.

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

~ Ernest Holmes

We are ever urged forward in our growth and realization. The Divine urge of our soul is to move toward greater fulfillment and expression. The soul wants us to be fully authentic, fully realized, fully expressed. The soul will not settle for less – if growth stops for too long, it will torment us until we get back on the pathway. When we feel overwhelmed, we should seek solace and practice self-care, however, we must also realize there is something within us that is not overwhelmed. And that we will continue forward on our spiritual pathway after our rest.

“We shall often need to announce that the Truth which we announce is superior to the condition we are to change.”

~ Ernest Holmes

What Dr. Holmes means here is that when we become firm in our conviction and faith in the Creative Power within, conditions change. We must see through appearances (current facts and our reaction to them) and know that something greater is not only possible but is assured as we expand our realization. When we are bombarded by negativity of one kind or another, it is easy to become disheartened. That is when we most need our conviction. To access to our inner strength in such times, we have to have been doing our spiritual practices regularly. If we have not, we had better get started.

“What the world needs is spiritual conviction, followed by spiritual experience. I would rather see a student of this Science prove its Principle than to have him repeat all the words of wisdom that have ever been uttered. It is far easier to teach the Truth than it is to practice It.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Mastery is not a final step in our spiritual growth – it is a step from which we can realize Truth more easily. It is a state of being attained through rigorous, regular practice, requiring radical self-honesty. Mastery means we naturally walk our talk.

We arrive at each moment of our life and the circumstances which are presented having access only to the degree of our potential which we have developed. We often realize that we are unprepared for those moments, which is a divine reminder to do the work more diligently. If we are to continue on our journey toward greater expression of our Divine nature, we must do the work, demanded of us. We are by nature evolutionary beings, so let us evolve!

“Evolution has brought man* to a point of self expression and it can do no more for him until he consciously co-operates with it…. All nature waits on man’s recognition of and co-operation with her laws, and is always ready to obey his will; but man must use Nature’s forces in accordance with her laws, and in co-operation with her purposes—which is goodness, truth, and beauty—if he wishes to attain self-mastery.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Spirit can only do for us, what if can do through us, as Dr. Holmes notes early in The Science of Mind text. This is a basic metaphysical law. We must create the inner conditions for the deep realization and expression of Spirit’s intention for us. We must consistently move toward mastery of our teaching so that when we are challenged at depth, we are prepared and ready to respond from Love, Wisdom, and Power. We can create #TheBelovedCommunity together when each of us has done this critical work to realize our deepest potentials and develop the compassionate heart.

Then we are capable of acting individually and collectively to change the world to #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone.

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

~ Ernest Holmes

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

*I use the original gender identification used by Dr. Holmes in this quote.

2020: A YEAR OF TRANSITION. MAKING FRIENDS WITH YOUR FEAR.

“One cannot be a good student of the Science of Mind who is filled with fear and confusion.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

“One must never give way to fear, but one must admit to oneself that one is afraid.”

~ C.G. Jung

The year 2020 is a year of transition for humanity, a year of hardship for many, and a year lived in at least some fear for most. It is a year when old institutions are showing their inadequacy to the world which is emerging, and when the fear of change is driving our politics. We are facing unprecedented challenges from climate change – an issue that grows more urgent and disruptive each day. We are learning the costs of failing to keep our social house in order as the politics of anger, hatred, and fear dominates most news cycles. Racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination have clearly not been healed and they are becoming ever more visible, causing heartache and violence in too many places. Decades of progress toward a more equitable and compassionate society in the United States are now being reversed in many instances. The increasing complexity of our societies is causing confusion, fear, and a retreat to simplistic answers which no longer work.

What 2020 Feels Like to Many

The two quotes at the top of the post may seem to be diametrically in opposition, however, they align quite well. Ernest Holmes is not telling us to deny fear – he is telling us to move through it and beyond it. He is saying that we cannot practice the principles of the Science of Mind teaching if we are filled with fear. But we will always have some fear, will we not? A refusal to admit to fear is a lie to oneself and radical self honesty is essential to the practice of the Science of Mind as with all New Thought teachings. How we recognize and process that fear is the key to our experience.

“You can’t go limp in the face of this world’s horror and barbarity. Limp is what they want, in the paranoid sense of the word ‘they.’”

~ Anne Lamont

We are imbued with Power as a divine aspect of our being. This Power is Life itself, the animating force, and it includes the capacities needed to live our lives creatively and fully. When fused with Love, this Power is a force for good – for us and others. In times such as these, it is important to recognize and express our Power and our Love. This kind of Love refuses to be abused and will abuse no one; but it will stand in courage and Truth. Our battles are within ourselves as the voices of our Higher Self and our fear-based ego each seek our attention.

“The world we see that seems so insane is the result of a belief system that is not working. To perceive the world differently, we must be willing to change our belief system, let the past slip away, expand our sense of now, and dissolve the fear in our minds.”

~ William James

“The human ego prefers anything, just about anything, to falling or changing or dying. The ego is that part of you that loves the status quo, even when it is not working. It attaches to past and present, and fears the future.”

~ Richard Rohr

Our fears are associated with losing what we have – freedom, joy, even life itself. Indeed, these things are threatened for many in these times. We must find the inner strength to shed our attachment to the status quo, as those beliefs and practices are inadequate to the demands of the current world. We are being called to an evolutionary response of a higher order than the current status quo, which serves very few.

My best definition of fear is “the edge of your known reality.” This kind of fear is natural, and wise – for when we are stepping out of what is known, fear can keep us focused and heighten our senses. This is the fear that we feel when we are on an adventure – a fear that may frighten us but is also welcomed. A key to thriving in these times is seeing them as an adventure – a high calling to our deepest faculties and a challenge to our best selves.

The world around us is changing and we must rise to the tasks at hand. We cannot pretend that nothing is happening, or retreat into an insistence on positive thinking only. We must confront the reality head on, not deny its fearsome aspects and stand in our Power. The positive thoughts we think must take into account the reality around us or we will not be effective in changing it for the better.

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

~ Marianne Williamson

“Opportunities to find deeper powers within ourselves come when life seems most challenging. Negativism to the pain and ferocity of life is negativism to life. We are not there until we can say ‘yea’ to it all.”

~ Joseph Campbell

We do not lack information, which is everywhere. What we too often lack is the willingness to discern the quality of that information and then to step forward and engage from a place of Power and Love. Just talking about what is wrong, or “Doomscrolling” through social media is not going to move us forward. We need to know what is happening, where the threats are, find strategies with which we can align to create better outcomes, and then work to bring those strategies to life.

“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.”

~ Marion Woodman

Let us begin by acknowledging our fears and assisting each other to move through and past them, bringing courage into our reality during the process. Let us clearly vision the kind of world we wish to inhabit and set clear intentions about manifesting. Let us bring compassion into conflict, but also set and enforce healthy boundaries to preserve our mental and emotional well being. Let us enter into the joy of living in a word which includes sorrows. As Joseph Campbell wrote, we cannot cure the world of sorrow, but we can learn to live in joy. He meant that when we bring the best of ourselves to what challenges us, we feel fully alive.

We are called to do our inner work in order to bring our authentic selves forward so that we rise above our fears and sense of inadequacy – and our fear of our own Power – to create a world that works for everyone. Begin now, today, with one thing that will allow you to express more fully, more compassionately, and more courageously.

“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

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

WE ARE GRIEVING – AND WE ARE CALLED TO ACTION

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

~ J.R.R. Tolkein

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

~ Joy Reid, MSNBC Host

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

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

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

~ James Hollis

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

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

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

~ Francis Weller

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

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

~ Jack Kornfield

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

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

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

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

Image c Christophe Dessaigne