THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 1

“Our knowledge is not reliable; it is partial and undermined by the fact that the unconscious has a separate truth dimension, of which we are mostly oblivious. Ironically, the deeper truth resides in what we habitually dismiss as illusion, fantasy, myth and distortion.”

~ David Tacey

As I introduce this multi-part series, I will say right up front:

  1. I wish to see diversity & inclusion succeed in every way possible in New Thought organizations and spiritual communities.

  2. I am an old cis-gender white male and I recognize that “my people” have done great harm with regard to all of us recognizing our Oneness. I am no longer in active ministry either, and you may take what I write with appropriate skepticism.

  3. My purpose is not to discourage anyone from doing work to increase diversity & inclusion. Rather, it is to aid in the likelihood of success by helping everyone to realize that this issue is more complex than it may appear. It is not just a matter of inviting those who are not already in your communities to start coming; it is also about recognizing the larger dynamics involved and being willing and able to make what may well be significant personal and organizational changes to increase the likelihood of your invitations being welcomed, and that once diversity is actualized, inclusion happens naturally and organically.

 

Diversity Inclusion Montage 1

The addition of diversity as a value and the creation of the Diversity and Inclusion Commission are signs that Centers for Spiritual Living is serious about making our organization more inclusive and diverse. In many parts of the organization, this is a major part of the conversation, not least among our younger ministers. I am sure that equivalent steps are being taken in other New Thought organizations as well. After all, how can we create #TheBelovedCommunity without diversity and inclusion?

When I travel around and visit many of our member communities, I notice that while diversity may be a value, it is not necessarily a reality. In most of our member communities, one would have to be told that diversity is an organizational value – it would not be obvious. I also note that in most cases, where you see diversity – of race and ethnicity especially – it is in areas where diversity is present in the larger community. Even then, the leadership of local spiritual communities must make efforts to create an environment where diversity can flourish, where people are welcoming to those who are different, and where those differences are not invisible, but are recognized, honored, and included in the life of the spiritual community.

I am writing this series of posts to do at least two things: first, to encourage greater diversity of all kinds in New Thought spiritual communities, and second, to help spiritual leaders understand why actualizing greater diversity can be challenging. Most spiritual leaders who have engaged with this issue have come to realize there is a difference between what people say that desire – greater diversity and inclusion – and what actually happens.

In this series, we will examine the different factors which affect the makeup of our spiritual communities. These include large demographic factors happening nationally and internationally, local demographics and cultural factors (values systems as in Spiral Dynamics) where a spiritual community is located; the psychology and culture of the spiritual community itself; the individual psychological factors involved, such as unconscious patters and biases through a Jungian lens; and, New Thought principles and how they allow us to interact with these other factors.

Actualizing greater diversity and inclusion (which are two different things, by the way), is more than just a decision. It involves a number of dynamics across a spectrum of human values systems, patterns of belief, and behaviors. Many well-meaning efforts fail to address these issues and do not result in the desired level of diversity – in fact, they may make things worse.

Malcom Gladwell’s statement “Allow yourself the uncomfortable luxury of changing your mind,” is one of those quotes that people may agree is true for different reasons. Those who have accepted the value of diversity and inclusion as welcome, even essential, may see it as a call for those who have not to come to accept the wise world view already accepted by some. Those who do not see diversity and inclusion as all that desirable may see it as a call for those who are so self-righteous about the issue to stop badgering them and “wake up and smell the coffee.”

The human tendency to feel more comfortable with one’s own kind is ancient and ingrained in us to a significant extent. For our tribal forebearers, inviting diversity into a community could well have been a death sentence for a variety of reasons. Banishment from the tribe, was likewise akin to a death sentence. This tribal values system is a part of each of us, and while it may be more intelligent to move past it in our postmodern world, there are reasons why not everyone will be on board – or at least not at the same time.

On a more individual basis, when diversity and inclusion are treated like a pill which must be swallowed, the natural tendency of many people will be to resent both the need for the pill and whoever is administering it. Statements of justification, however valid, will run up against ingrained values systems and beliefs in the unconscious mind (meaning that they are inaccessible to direct conscious intervention). This leads to resistance. Telling me that something is good for me is not the best way to get me to eat or drink it – “eat your spinach!” My personal programming from childhood tells me to immediately be suspicious that it will not taste good. So, I will resist and perhaps demur. As an adult, I can fairly easily overcome this resistance and take a taste, but the resistance is there, nonetheless.

“Resistance blooms naturally in the presence of change. You will encounter resistance in attempts at ascendance, physical or spiritual.”

~ Gregg Levoy

If you tell me that it is mandatory that I taste the “good for me” substance, I may well review my agreements with you and/or your organization to see if I have other options. I will do this even if I agree with you that the substance may well be good for me. I don’t like being told what to do and I especially don’t like being told what to value. I will unconsciously rebel, at least to some degree, in such circumstances, even if I agree with you on a conscious level. How this resistance is responded to by spiritual leaders and other community members is critically important. If those who resist are belittled or shut-down, their resistance will likely harden. The breakthrough may never come.

The other morning, as I opened my French language homework (Dorianne and I are studying French) and saw what the assignment was, I recoiled and briefly considered leaving the course of study. Now, I am not going to do that. I will “eat my spinach,” but I won’t be entirely happy about it. I will do it because, as an adult, I see the value in continuing, despite my discomfort. It is helpful that I am continually reminded of the value of knowing how to speak with my neighbors here in France.

The value of diversity and inclusion, on its own, may not be a strong enticement for some. We in the United States live in a nation which elected Donald Trump as president, and the values associated with the worldviews represented by that choice – among them being a desire for less diversity – are clearly prevalent enough for its adherents to gain political power. In the UK, the Brexit vote was made largely out of a visceral desire to make that nation less diverse. Similar electoral results in Italy, Austria, Poland, Germany, Brazil, the Philippines and other places should get our attention. Diversity and inclusion are not currently universal values of humans in developed nations; in fact, they are relatively new to the scene in human cultural development. Spiral Dynamics (LINK) can be helpful in understanding these dynamics.

You may respond, but this is New Thought, and we are different – we are more conscious, more loving, more open than the average in our larger culture. And I agree with these statements, in general, people in New Thought spiritual communities are more likely to see diversity and inclusion as values worth supporting. This is critically important, because an openness to a different way of being, even if not universally supported, is necessary for any community to be willing to go through the ordeal of actual change required to actualize such a value where it is not currently manifest. Because we also know that saying that we want diversity and inclusion is different that actually making the changes in behaviors, both collective and individual, which are necessary to make greater diversity and inclusion a reality.

Diversity Inclusion Montage 2

To this I add the very important and often forgotten concept of how change occurs. We recognize in all New Thought teachings that in order to manifest something different in one’s life, one has to effect a change in consciousness, which leads to a change in conditions. As Michael Beckwith has said so many times, “What must I become to manifest my vision?” So, this question can be expanded to say, “What must this spiritual community become to manifest our vision of greater diversity and inclusion?” When I see and hear discussions about increasing diversity and inclusion, I rarely hear this approach. More often it is something like this, “We are already welcoming and affirming, why don’t we have greater diversity?”

This second statement puts the power outside and seems to indicate a belief that my experience of life will change without me changing. In other words, this statement is at best a misunderstanding of New Thought principles.

In the next posts, I will explore diversity and inclusion efforts from the macro to the micro – from the society at large, to the culture of the spiritual community, to the individual psychology involved. Then, in the final segment, I will explore how to effectively apply New Thought principles to each of these areas in order to increase the likelihood of creating and maintaining successful diversity and inclusion programs.

As always, your comments along the way are encouraged! As are stories of success or lack of success in doing this work in your own spiritual communities. Please share this post with others who may find it of interest.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

I am again honored to be a presenter at the Inspired Writer’s Retreat: March 23 & 24

at the beautiful Château de Bossey near Geneva, Switzerland.

Chateau de Bossey.jpg

For more information and to register:

INSPIRED WRITER’S RETREAT (LINK)

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BALANCING CERTAINTY AND HUMILITY – A PROFOUND SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE

“Our ignorance is invisible to us.”

~ David Dunning (Dunning-Kruger effect)

Sometimes in New Thought we get mixed messages. One the one hand, we are told that we need to be certain about the truth of our affirmations; on the other hand, we must learn to be humble, to admit that there is always much that we do not know. A result of this is sometimes, our teachers seem harsh in that they refuse to allow for a healing not to occur – or we do this to ourselves. And yet, we get that it is the development of a new belief, based on our ability to convince ourselves of something new – something that we want to believe (I am healthy) replacing something that we do not want to believe (I am sick).

Does humility come into the picture?

Humility: modesty, humbleness, modestness, meekness, lack of pride, lack of vanity, diffidence, unassertiveness; “he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better”

~ Dictionary.com

In an interesting article on Intellectual Humility (LINK) aimed primarily at scientific researchers, there are some good tidbits of truth for all of us. For one thing, a lack of humility is often the result of a poor self-concept. People who lack humility often brag about their accomplishments or status and have little to no tolerance for contradiction. Humility is actually about being open to truth – sometimes the truth that we are limited in our ability to know things. By accepting the fact of our ignorance, we can do something about it – we can seek to learn what we do not know, but more importantly, we can avoid acting like we know everything when we do not.

“Here’s the deep lesson to draw from all of this: Much as we might tell ourselves our experience of the world is the truth; our reality will always be an interpretation. Light enters our eyes, sound waves enter our ears, chemicals waft into our noses, and it’s up to our brains to make a guess about what it all is.”

~ Brian Resnick on Intellectual Humility at Vox.com

Some have said that to accept your ignorance – that you do not know – will increase doubt and, therefore, make it more difficult to accept healing ideas into your belief system. I would counter that the greatest Truth we can entertain – that of a Creative Intelligence, Spirit, God – is itself a mystery which is ultimately unknowable to the human mind. I can expect healing to occur as the result of affirmative prayers creating a change in consciousness without knowing the actual process by which the healing occurs – in fact, I must do this because the actual process is unknowable!

Our openness to spiritual healing is not dependent upon our ability to analyze. It is dependent on our ability to have faith in a Mystery which works beyond our ability to know. We can know the input and the output of the healing process: multi-dimensional prayers (thoughts, feelings, intention) go in and a changed physical condition comes out. We cannot know what happens in our subconscious mind, nor how the Universal gets involved – these aspects are not available to us. Attempts to analyze them are futile and can lead to doubt in the healing process. We must learn the necessary degree of faith to have in an unknown so that It will work in consciousness. Our analysis stops with the determination of how best to do affirmative prayer (Spiritual Mind Treatment). The rest is beyond our ability to control.

“Faith is not in conflict with reason, nor is it a substitute for reason. Faith chooses the grade of significance or Level of Being at which the search for knowledge and understanding is to aim. There is reasonable faith and there is unreasonable faith. To look for meaning and purpose at the level of inanimate matter would be as unreasonable an act of faith as an attempt to ‘explain’ the masterpieces of human genius as nothing but the outcome of economic interests or sexual frustration.”

~ E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

We walk a fine line between the need to be analytical in aspects of our mental life and the need to trust in the mysteries of consciousness. If we give ourselves wholly to magical thinking where it is not effective, we lose ourselves in the tangible world. On the other hand, if we take a compulsive need to analyze into the realm of consciousness, we lose ourselves to that much larger realm. It is a middle path that is needed here, giving each realm its due and approaching each properly – one linear, one non-linear. Along this line is the realm of the mythological concept of The Fool – the force of “inappropriate” impulse and behavior which can aid us in traversing the realm between our two basic realities.

“I must learn to love the fool in me—the one who feels too much, talks too much, takes too many chances, wins sometimes and loses often, lacks self-control, loves and hates, hurts and gets hurt, promises and breaks promises, laughs and cries. It alone protects me against that utterly self-controlled, masterful tyrant whom I also harbor and who would rob me of my human aliveness, humility, and dignity but for my Fool.”

~ Theodore Isaac Rubin 

This middle path in a sense straddles the two realms and overlaps them, sometimes awkwardly. A healthy Fool is willing to look, well, foolish in service to the essence of each realm. The healthy Fool must have done work on his/her Shadow (LINK) in order to be fully available to both the tangible and the mysterious – both are needed to access the transcendent, what Jung called the numinous.

“As Jung has argued, it is the encounter with the numinous that is the true goal of therapy. So, not adaptation, not happiness, not statistical normality, but encounter with the numinous. In such encounters we are restored to our proper place in the larger order. Our journeys are reframed and repositioned. Awe and humility – the twin attitudes necessary for religious or psychological truth – bring new life to each of us, if we can bear them.”

~James Hollis, PhD, Jungian analyst, On This Journey We Call Our Life

Humility is the capacity to accept that we will know some things and not other things. It is the capacity to function well despite our ignorance. It is the ability to live in the realities of both realms of existence – the tangible and the mysterious. It is the ability to use our analytical function where it serves us best and to come to rely on faith and trust for the realm of mystery. It understands that certainty is often a way of clinging to ignorance out of fear. Humility is an essential trait on any mature spiritual pathway.

“While true understanding brings power, it brings humility. There is no feeling of mastery one over another, only over error. True words are all of love, and if I speak any other words I do not speak at all, for they are not the utterance of truth. We do not speak true words until the mortal is put quite away-hushed.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

PATIENCE AND DISCERNMENT – TWO THRIVING SKILLS FOR TODAY

“All (people) are liars, certainly. I just let them sit in that chair and lie till they get tired of lying. Then they begin to tell the truth.”

~ C.G. Jung 

Sign - Self Knowledge

We are easily misled. There are a number of reasons for this. We have internal biases which color our perception and make the world seem to agree with what we believe. We receive information which is incomplete or filtered by others with unconscious biases; this is particularly true of fast-moving news stories. Sometimes, we are deliberately misinformed, or given untruthful information by others who have been misinformed but do not know it.

This week there have been a few examples of people being misinformed or under-informed on mass scales. A group of teens in Washington, DC for a pro-life demonstration encounter a Native American activist and the first images posted convey something which, it turns out, is incomplete, if not totally inaccurate. Outrage spreads on social media and in other media. Many are triggered by this incident, me included, and fail to check our biases before passing the information along – me included.

 

The action of these biases on our perception is linked to the prejudices we hold. While there is clearly racism in the events pictured, none of us is looking at them through an unbiased lens. Racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of bigotry arise because we are easily misled, not only when young, as in the case of some of these teens, but when we are mature as well. If we do not develop qualities which remove our biases, we are well advised to mediate them. This requires a combination of patience and discernment.

Patience may allow us to wait for more information before interpreting and sharing something controversial or inflammatory. Discernment (LINK) may help us to better understand something from the position that we may not understand it fully to begin with – AND that we probably have some unconscious biases which are likely to take us further from the truth.

I believe that we are all complicit in allowing this kind of consciousness to be in power. The changes required are deep and challenging. There is a complex array of elements of human nature, both individual and collective, which affects both how we interact from our worldviews and how those worldviews develop. Each of us brings a unique perspective and set of biases, even if we may seem to be in two camps – left and right for example. When we fail to do our own inner work of seeking out and healing our own biases, we will surely contribute to the expression of those biases in the larger world, unconsciously if not intentionally.

We have failed the generation of young people who have been raised to see violence, hatred, bigotry, and power as part of a pathway to success in our culture. We have failed to teach compassion as a goal, kindness and honesty as acceptable behaviors (even in business!!), and discernment as a desirable skill. By example, we have shown them that ruthless, uncaring, and angry people who are wealthy or “successful” are role models – that might makes right, at least in some cases. And we show our own arrogance if we are angry at these children – they are after all our own creation.

“We are clearly at a long overdue moment in history where everyone, good hearted or not, will HAVE to look at themselves, the part they played in the past, the things they’ve seen, ignored, accepted as normal, or simply missed—and consider what side of history they want to be on in the future.”

~ Anthony Bourdain

Beautiful Moon 7

Compassionate, loving people are not weak, they are empowered. They do not abuse others and they refuse to be abused themselves. They stand up to corruption, dishonesty, and bigotry not from hatred, but from love. It takes years and lots of effort for most of us to mature to this level. Yet, there is no other way forward. Anything less guarantees that we keep producing new generations of fearful, weak, prejudiced people who do more harm than good in the world.

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

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

These children are my children. I cannot see them as “other” and hold them in compassion. I cannot condemn them, their parents, or their teachers without condemning myself. This is the lesson of unity and oneness upon which my spiritual teaching is built.

We must commit to our own healing so that we can each be a healing presence in our world and can remain centered in Truth even when the turbulent winds of conflict and crisis are blowing. It is through patience and discernment, thriving skills which are developed through daily spiritual practices, that we grow into our potential.

“Much of our inability to forgive others comes from a deep-seated inferiority complex. Often our antagonistic attitude toward others rises from a need within our own minds to be relieved of our unconscious sense of self-condemnation, as though we have such a burden of guilt within our minds that we can hardly bear it. And so, we project it to others just for the relief it gives ourselves.”

~ Ernest Holmes,

“Living the Science of Mind,” Chapter: “The Need for Forgiveness”

#Aworldthatworksforeveryone #TheBelovedCommunity

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

As always, your comments are welcomed. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. To receive first notice of future postings, follow this blog.

THOUGHTS FOR A NEW YEAR – SEEKING WHOLENESS

“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.” 

~ William James

Dali-2 - Egg

“This is the moment when we either turn up the light within ourselves or move further into the darkness. Stop giving energy, time, and power to negativity. Counteract it with goodness. Notice where there is a need, then do whatever you can to help.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

Whether you call it wholeness, authenticity, or oneness, what we seek is the deep and profound connection with our souls. This is the essence of spirituality – the bringing forth of the best of ourselves, our Divine Natures.

Entering a new year is a wonderful opportunity to make the kinds of changes in your life which will lead to a deeper level of beingness. You can, of course, do this any time, but the symbolic opportunity of a new year is particularly apt. The theme is seeking – what we seek and what seeks us. Spiritual wisdom teaches us that this is an inside-out process; change begins within and seeks expression and the changed person now notices different things in the outer world. It is like putting on glasses which enable you to see more clearly. The external world has not changed, but one’s ability to perceive it more clearly changes how one relates.

The work of changing our perception is done by using our conscious mind to change belief patterns in our subconscious mind. The best way to do this is through regular, daily spiritual practices, the repetition of which generates new beliefs by altering the information stored in the brain. New neural pathways are opened over time, and our perception becomes clearer. As William Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear . . . as it is, infinite.” Our spiritual practices and the guiding of our daily thoughts to be more loving and wise help us to cleanse those doors of perception.

“Carl Jung saw that the human psyche strives always toward wholeness, strives to become more conscious. The unconscious mind seeks to move its contents up to the level of consciousness, where they can be actualized and assimilated into more complete conscious personality.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

What is unconscious is not available to us directly, but is active in our creative process, which is a blend of conscious and unconscious elements – thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc. By working to bring more to the conscious level, we gain greater dominion over our experience. The process of bringing the unconscious to conscious awareness can be difficult and painful – much of what is unconscious is repressed aspects of ourselves, called shadow, which we deemed unacceptable at some point in our lives. When we do not do this work, we remain at the mercy of our repressed selves, which seek healing by bringing us into challenges calling for healthy expression of those repressed aspects. This cycle of projection and denial continues until we interrupt it and re-integrate those aspects consciously.

The seeking we must do is beyond the superficial, beyond just positive thinking, meditating, and contemplating. While all of those are essential, they are not sufficient to do the deep work of healing shadow. I do not believe that this deep work can be done alone, the ego is so resistant to revealing what has been repressed. We need to work with someone who has done their own deep work, a therapist perhaps, who will lovingly hold our feet to the fires of radical self-honesty. Anything less is insufficient.

This is a hero’s journey in itself, requiring a departure from the apparent safety of our denial (which is a false sense of security), and into the depths of our being. It requires that we acknowledge, own, love, and finally, integrate what we have repressed into a healthy self-concept.

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“The journey of the hero is about the courage to seek the depths; the image of creative rebirth; the eternal cycle of change within us; the uncanny discovery that the seeker is the mystery which the seeker seeks to know. The hero journey is a symbol that binds, in the original sense of the word, two distant ideas, the spiritual quest of the ancients with the modern search for identity, always the one, shape-shifting yet marvelously constant story that we find.” 

~ Phil Cousineau

The good news is that we are supported in this work by our soul – the deepest and truest part of who we are. The soul seeks to experience the fullness of life and refuses to sit quietly by as we ignore its urgings. It does not care about propriety or the opinions and rules of others – it wants what it wants. It wants love and expression – it wants to experience the infinite.

“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

To the degree that you choose to do deep work in 2019, you will need to accept that such work is not easy and that it will affect every area of your life. Beginning with an appraisal of your regular spiritual practices – are they sufficient, are they deep enough, are they delivering what you want from them?

If you want to do such an assessment, I am providing access to a document I use with my private students: Click to download Self Assessment Authentic Self Handout 2018. You can download it and complete it, then use it to guide you toward developing a more meaningful and relevant set of spiritual practices.

“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

End of Year

As always, your comments are appreciated.

And many thanks to the nearly 12,000 visitors to this blog during 2018. I am very grateful that you found value here.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

BE ENCOURAGED. IT’S CONSCIOUSNESS – ALL OF IT.

“Consciousness is a singular, the plural of which is unknown.”

~ Erwin Schrödinger

So, as far as I understand it, here is how it works:

Whenever I enter something – a pattern of thought, a room, a situation, a relationship, an agreement, a voyage, anything – I bring my consciousness of the moment. That consciousness determines my experience of what I am entering; it determines my behaviors, helps to co-create whatever it is I am entering before I enter it, and what it will change into while I am there and after I leave. It also determines whether and how I am changed in the process.

Beautiful Prayer Flags

The same consciousness is also in everyone and everything associated with what I enter, and through each individual involved, the Universal Consciousness interacts with itself. So, I am a bit player, albeit an important one, in a much larger theater which is unfolding. Universal Consciousness, knowing itself and discovering itself as it changes, is really all that is happening in this universe. My role (and yours) is to consciously and unconsciously direct that consciousness from potential into actuality by individualizing it within our unique identities. I do this individually in my own life and collectively in my sphere of influence as I live. Quantum physics tells me my sphere of influence (and yours) touches every particle in the universe and beyond to any other universes which may exist.

“As Jung argues in ‘Answer to Job,’ human self-reflective awareness might be seen as the medium through which God becomes conscious – with the human ego serving as the divine organ of self-reflective consciousness.”

~ Keiron le Grice

Beautiful Nautilus

I like to get back to basics in December as I prepare myself mentally and emotionally for a New Year. I like to think about the metaphysical creative process and how it works by means of me to create my own life experience and to influence the experience of others. This thinking helps me to see the value in a regular spiritual practice to bring my psychological process into focus toward positive experiences, outcomes, and contributions. Of course, you can do this work at any time of the year, and I recommend that you do it continuously.

Now, I know that thinking is only the beginning, not the end of what I need to do. I must think in the most constructive way possible, but also be doing deeper work to reveal the limited and destructive aspects buried within my unconscious, for they will continually show up in ways that negatively affect me. This means shadow work, delving into my discomfort to bring light to it and to reintegrate what I have rejected about myself earlier in life into a healthy adult self-concept. For I realize today that my self-concept directs the consciousness expressing as me in whatever I enter into.

Often, my repressed energies deal with my own body, my sexuality, my identity. We are taught to separate our connection to sensuality and put it out of our socially approved range of experiences. We compartmentalize, and the repressed energies continue to express through the “back channels” of our psyche.

“Don´t condemn sensuality. It has been condemned by the whole world, and because of their condemnation, the energy that can flower in sensuality moves into perversions, jealousy, anger, hatred — a kind of life which is dry, with no juice. Sensuousness is one of the greatest blessings to humanity. It is your sensitivity, it is your consciousness. Consciousness filtering through the body is what sensuousness is.”

~ Osho

Beautiful Baby 5 - feet.jpg

My expression of life is limited to the degree that my primal energies have been caged rather than harnessed; they have been imprisoned rather than disciplined. When this is so, they rebel in their desire to be a part of the expression of a healthy being and emerge as destructive behaviors, guilt, and shame. Deep inner work and daily spiritual practices are the path to returning these inner energies to a healthy state of expression.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline. . .. That is real freedom. That is being educated and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

~ David Foster Wallace

Spiritual Mind Treatment, or affirmative prayer, is a form of affirmation and visualization to train my mind in ways leading to the constructive expression of the complete array of primal energies within me. For all of these energies are creative and are essential in living a fulfilled human life. I cannot contribute the fullness of my potential to others unless I am realizing that fullness in my own life experience.

We are, of course, aided in this process by a universe which unerringly cooperates to meet our need for positive development. This is so because, as I noted earlier, all consciousness, including my individualized consciousness is part of the same thing. Our experience of our own different inner manifestations of consciousness and the mingling with the expressions of others is Universal Consciousness knowing and interacting with itself. Because this is so, we are continually in a place of opportunity to realize what we need to do to move toward an enlightened way of being – meaning a consciousness which is individualized as a high self-concept. Natasha Dern puts it beautifully in this quote:

“So, what is enlightenment? How about coming down from that mountain and putting your unity consciousness to the test amidst mortgage payments and credit card debt, divorce lawyers and aging parents, nasty bosses and health problems, wars and poverty? Such conditions, as the alchemist knows, burns away the dross to reveal who we are not. Yes, in the midst of the madness we awaken, grow comfortable with our dualistic nature and develop mystical stamina so that we can handle our sobriety. Illusions are like drugs and enlightenment is like rehab.”

~ Natasha Dern

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

As individuals, being aspects of a larger expression of Universal Consciousness, we seek both unification and healing so as to return to a sense of Oneness with our true nature – our God Nature. We are assisted by the unfolding an expressing universe and have everything we need to make our life journey one that leads us toward greater and greater fulfillment. Our struggles are part of this process – it is all the unfolding of consciousness. There is nothing else happening. I cannot think of a more encouraging way of seeing our lives.

“We are ever renewed by the passage of the Divine light through our consciousness.”

~ Ernest Holmes

HAVE A WONDERFUL 2019 –

MAY YOUR LIFE BE FULFILLED.

 

As always, your comments are appreciated. Please share this post with those you think might find it of value.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

MORE ON GRIEVING – AS TIME PASSES, LESSONS EMERGE

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

~ J.R.R. Tolkien

There is no set timetable for grief. For some, the deepest experience of it is relatively short; for others, much longer. And while the sense of loss may never go away, it does subside over time. As we notice that happening, we must begin to emerge from the deep fall into grief and start the climb back into our life, changed though it may be.

Beautiful Angel Sculputure 3

For me, when my daughter died (LINK to last post), I went very deeply into grief and stayed there for several weeks – numb, in pain, lost – going through the motions of preparing for the cremation, the memorials, having conversations with loved ones and remembering almost none of it afterward. Because of my faith built through spiritual study and spiritual practices, I knew that grief has a bottom, I was able to let myself fall fully and deeply for a month or so and my recovery to a functional life was, I believe, quicker as a result.

Beautiful Angel Sculputure 5

“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

This is something which I know from my own experience, but which I would never say to someone fresh in their grieving process. I would encourage them to grieve fully and offer my support in any way they may desire it. However, it is of no help to tell people about the lessons they are learning or that a loved one is in a better place, or that the one grieving is better off without what is lost (as in the case of a lost job, for example). In the early stages of grief, we are not capable of learning lessons or of rationalizing loss. We are better served by being with the pain of loss in an environment which allows us to be with that pain safely. There is no escaping the need to grieve, but we can refuse the experience at the depth needed for us to move toward healing. Refusing the experience deprives us of the healing that only deep grieving can offer. We need to grieve, painfully and fully, if we are to emerge and live a fulfilling life ourselves.

“For me there are two wise lessons in this story: Grief and loss are ubiquitous even for a young child. And the way toward healing is to look for how love comes back in another form.”

~ May Benatar

841-03675826

Eventually, we move into a phase of grieving in which we are ready to explore deeper meanings, new ways forward, and other issues. But this may happen slowly and we may well have times when we return to deeper grief. Again, there is no universal trajectory or timetable to measure one’s progress. Grief will ebb and flow. Patience is needed here, both by the one grieving and by those in his or her support system.

When we are ready to explore the lessons to be learned, we might also realize that the lessons we might learn are NOT the reason the loss occurred. They are a byproduct, not part of a causative chain. Thinking that someone died so that you could learn more self-acceptance is a road to unnecessary guilt. That said, there will be valuable lessons to learn about yourself, about life, about many things as you emerge from deep grief. Some of them will be unique to you and to your situation, others will be more universal. I will close with this poem which speaks to a universal lesson that we would all be well-served by learning:

The Dakini Speaks:

My friends, let’s grow up.
Let’s stop pretending we don’t know the deal here.
Or if we truly haven’t noticed, let’s wake up and notice.
Look: Everything that can be lost, will be lost.
It’s simple — how could we have missed it for so long?
Let’s grieve our losses fully, like ripe human beings,
But please, let’s not be so shocked by them.
Let’s not act so betrayed,
As though life had broken her secret promise to us.
Impermanence is life’s only promise to us,
And she keeps it with ruthless impeccability.
To a child she seems cruel, but she is only wild,
And her compassion exquisitely precise:
Brilliantly penetrating, luminous with truth,
She strips away the unreal to show us the real.
This is the true ride — let’s give ourselves to it!
Let’s stop making deals for a safe passage:
There isn’t one anyway, and the cost is too high.
We are not children anymore.
The true human adult gives everything for what cannot be lost.
Let’s dance the wild dance of no hope!

~ Jennifer Welwood, The Dakini Speaks

Beautiful Angel Sculputure 4

As always, your comments are welcomed. I am deeply touched by the love and support in the comments to my last post, here at the blog site, on social media, and via direct connections with many who read the post. It was my most read blog post to date. May we all find the healing we need to live with the inevitable losses in life, and may we support one another in doing so. Be gentle with yourself and with one another. Thank you.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

LESSONS FROM THE DEATH OF MY CHILD

Don’t surrender your grief so quickly,
let it pierce the soul
Let it wail and crack open wide the disbelief
allowing its searing tears to stain your face
Something is missing in my heart tonight,
it has made my gentle eyes soft with sorrow
while my angry voice turns into a whispered prayer
and my tender need of absolution so clear.

~ Joseph Francis Argazzi

Angel Tears

Two of my colleagues in ministry have experienced the death of young adult children in the past couple of weeks. One is eerily like my own experience of the loss of my precious daughter, Caitlyn, on Easter Sunday 2008 to a tragic car accident. Like Caitlyn, my friend’s daughter was under 20 with what was surely to be an amazing life ahead of her. Needless to say, these events have brought up feelings and memories for me as I grieve their losses and, once again, my own, I am reminded that grief does not end. It lies beneath the surface at times, but it can be awakened at any moment. So, I am moved to write this, my most personal blog entry to date.

I have only partial, episodic memories of the three weeks in 2008, beginning just before midnight on the eve of Easter Sunday, California time, when my daughter, Heather, called me from her mom’s home in Ft. Lauderdale. It was already after midnight in Florida where Caitlyn had just died. I remember those first few hours, crying off and on as I called people – my wife, Dorianne, who was writing in our cabin in Montana and unreachable at that hour; my ministerial partner at the time, Dr. Sue Rubin, to tell her the news, pray, and arrange for her to do the Sunday service alone; Delta Airlines, where the person who took my call put me on hold while she cried and spoke to her supervisor so that we could transfer the airline tickets we had purchased to attend Caitlyn’s high school graduation in six weeks – without any fees; and my friend Steven Brabant, for a ride to LAX very early on Sunday morning. If I called anyone else, I don’t remember.

Beautiful Angel Sculputure 2

Of the three weeks in Fort Lauderdale which followed, I remember staying with my dear friend Dr. Charles Geddes (well, arriving at his place, that’s about all I recall), making arrangements with the Neptune Society, bits of two very large memorial services, some connection with friends and family, and a few other things, but not very much. I realize now that what I was doing was grieving and that was, for me, a period of sadness and numbness. Along the way there was anger, despair, more anger, resignation, more sadness – much more. And the gradual realization that this had really happened and my beautiful daughter was gone; and that my life would never be the same. Memories had to be restructured and given new meaning, future plans and idealizations erased. Joan Didion put it well:

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it. We anticipate (we know) that someone close to us could die, but we do not look beyond the few days or weeks that immediately follow such an imagined death. We misconstrue the nature of even those few days or weeks. We might expect if the death is sudden to feel shock. We do not expect the shock to be obliterative, dislocating to both body and mind. We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss. We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes.

“In the version of grief we imagine, the model will be “healing.” A certain forward movement will prevail. The worst days will be the earliest days. We imagine that the moment to most severely test us will be the funeral, after which this hypothetical healing will take place. When we anticipate the funeral we wonder about failing to “get through it,” rise to the occasion, exhibit the “strength” that invariably gets mentioned as the correct response to death. We anticipate needing to steel ourselves the for the moment: will I be able to greet people, will I be able to leave the scene, will I be able even to get dressed that day?

“We have no way of knowing that this will not be the issue. We have no way of knowing that the funeral itself will be anodyne, a kind of narcotic regression in which we are wrapped in the care of others and the gravity and meaning of the occasion. Nor can we know ahead of the fact (and here lies the heart of the difference between grief as we imagine it and grief as it is) the unending absence that follows, the void, the very opposite of meaning, the relentless succession of moments during which we will confront the experience of meaninglessness itself.”

~ Joan Didion on Grief from “A Year of Magical Thinking”

A big lesson I learned through my spiritual philosophy, The Science of Mind, which I had been studying for nearly 20 years at that point, was that if I trusted Spirit and my connection, my grief would have a bottom. I could allow myself to grieve deeply without fear that I would lose myself. This was very comforting in helping me through the process (which never ends, by the way). I also had spiritual support from colleagues, friends, family, and others.

Spiritual maturity is the ability to face whatever comes along in life from a place of realization that it’s all divine – meaning that much of what happens is a mystery. The why questions about people dying are ultimately unanswerable. There are aspects of reality at play for which we have no understanding.

So, if I were to offer advice to anyone who is grieving the loss of a loved one (or any other kind of loss), it would be this.

  • Let yourself grieve – your process will be unique in some ways and frustratingly conformist in others. Be with it regardless. Remember, it has a bottom; but it never ends.
  • The memorial service is not the hardest part. As difficult as that can be, the weeks that follow were a wasteland of numbness for me. Life had no flavor, no prospect of joy, as Joan Didion noted above. And after a few weeks, ready or not, people start expecting you to be “normal” again.
  • There is no appropriate time for grieving to be over; but it should become manageable over time. If it doesn’t, get some help.
  • Try to have compassion for those who try to comfort you but do not know how. Next to losing my daughter, the most difficult part of the process was dealing with well-meaning but unskillful efforts to comfort me. Most of the time, the best thing to say to someone grieving is something like, “I don’t know what to say,” because, more often that not, that is the truth. And, of course, people are approaching a grieving person from their own fears – of death, of inadequacy, of sorrow, of loss. Compassion is the only answer.
  • There is more to life than meets the eye. I have had experiences which point me to the realization that this experience of life isn’t all there is. I don’t pretend to have any details about what is beyond this experience and tend not to trust those who tell me they do. But there is more.
  • Finally, show your love to those for whom you care – not out of sense of fear of loss, but rather out of a determination to live in greater joy now.

Beautiful Angel Sculpture

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

~ Pema Chödrön

 As always, your comments are appreciated.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

 

SPIRITUAL HEALING & TRAUMA – MAKING A SOUL CONNECTION

“Briefly formulated, the universal doctrine teaches that all the visible structures of the world – all things and all beings – are the effects of a ubiquitous power out of which they rise, which supports and fills them during the period of their manifestation, and back into which they must ultimately dissolve. This is the power known to science as energy, to the Melanesians as mana, to the Sioux Indians as wakonda, to the Hindus as shakti, and the Christians as the power of God. Its manifestation in the psyche is termed, by the psychoanalysts, libido. And its manifestation in the cosmos is the structure and flux of the universe itself.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Healing, which is the essence of New Thought spiritual principles, deals with a triune of realms: the physical and metaphysical realms, plus the realm of pure Spirit. It is a process of revealing the perfection of the soul through a consciousness which has become unaware of its own radiance. It is never solely in one realm or another, it is always holistically present through the whole being – from soul/essence to outer physical being.

“We are ever renewed by the passage of the Divine light through our consciousness.”

~ Ernest Holmes

When we view spiritual healing as a linear process (Unhealed Condition → Prayer Treatment → Change of Consciousness → Healed Condition) we miss a greater Truth. Most of what we are is beyond language and calculations about matter – most of what we are is ephemeral energy directed by an intelligence which “thinks” in symbols and archetypes. Our physical being of cells, organs, and systems is also beyond the merely physical; it is a community of beingness with many intelligences converging to become what we call “me.”

The limitations of medical treatments, now or at any time in history, are that they offer linear treatment regimens to a non-linear being. Sometimes, this is enough, but more often there is no healing unless the deeper systems of beingsoul and consciousness – come into harmony with the medical treatment. In New Thought, we recognize these deeper systems as the most important, recognizing that, when properly aligned, they can heal without medical intervention.

However, we do not eschew medical practices, recognizing that they can be beneficial, especially when our consciousness is not able to accept our own healing potentialities.

“In this Science, we believe that man’s life is a drama which takes place on three planes:  the physical, the mental, and the spiritual.  We should have no objections to any form of healing, for anything that helps to overcome suffering is good, whether it be a pill or a prayer.  We believe in any method which produces results, for each has its place in the Whole.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “The Science of Mind,” Page 191

When healing is required, it is necessary that the processes of healing be available. This means that one must know how to facilitate the healing process by utilizing or invoking the three realms. Sometimes, this is not possible. A person may be incapable of aligning thoughts and emotions in a way which allows healing to occur. In such cases, it can be helpful to have assistance from others, who may treat for the person. Another way forward is through ritual, compassion, and other actions which may help the person to move to a salutary state of mind more receptive to healing.

As we learn more about psychology, we are seeing that not everyone may be able at any given moment to create a healing consciousness. This can be due to a number of things, from brain injury, to trauma, to improper chemicals in the body. The condition may be temporary or permanent. Trauma can result in an inability to create mental patterns which facilitate healing.

PTSD Word Cloud

Trauma, resulting in what is currently termed Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a condition which is undoubtedly on the rise in our society. Once thought of as applying only to soldiers in combat, it is now realized that any kind of physical or emotional trauma can result in some degree of PTSD or similar disorder. Those affected are often unable to form the mental patterns necessary for their own physical and emotional well-being. They may also fail to understand that their condition is unusual and not seek help.

In a prescient column in the New York Times (LINK), David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) speaks to the need to treat the effects of trauma holistically, including soul issues (what we in New Thought would consider metaphysical issues).

“Our society has tried to medicalize trauma. We call it PTSD and regard it as an individual illness that can be treated with medications. But it’s increasingly clear that trauma is a moral and spiritual issue as much as a psychological or chemical one. Wherever there is trauma, there has been betrayal, an abuse of authority, a moral injury.”

~ David Brooks

The sea change necessary to bring our understanding of what it means to be human is underway, but a long way from complete. We have only seen a mind-body connection for about half a century. Incorporating the soul will take a while longer. But we in New Thought are already there – at least we have a teaching which is already there. And we, too, must broaden our vision of how potential is actualized into experience. We must see that there are times when individuals and groups CANNOT know the truth. And, just maybe, we need to expand our spiritual toolkits to include things that might help people bridge the gap. These might include clearly thought-out rituals, initiation rites, and the like, which do more than celebrate something. To be effective at the levels needed they must include no small amount of challenge and a willingness to create discomfort along a path to recovery or to a new level of being.

(Edward) Tick (LINK) points out that most ancient cultures put returning soldiers through purification rituals. The men came back from battle and the terrible things they had done there, and they were given a chance to cleanse, purify and rejoin the community. The community would take possession of the guilt the soldiers may have felt for the things they had to do on its behalf.”

~ David Brooks

Purification Ritual - Japan

Purification Ritual – Japan

Such rituals are also needed for survivors of abuse, for first responders, for spiritual communities where trauma has occurred. We need to facilitate the reconnection with the soul where that connection has been distorted. This will require a new skillset for most or all of us. You might begin by studying Joseph Campbell (LINK). It is a way of working toward #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone.

“I wish our culture had many more rites of passage, communal moments when we celebrated a moral transition. There could be a communitywide rite of passage for people coming out of prison, for forgiveness of a personal wrong, for people who felt they had come out the other side of trauma and abuse. There’d be a marriage ceremony of sorts to mark the moment when a young person found the vocation he or she would dedicate life to.

“It’ll take a lot to make our culture a thick moral culture. But one way or another, nations and people have to grow a soul big enough to enclose the traumas that haunt them.”

~ David Brooks

 

As always, your comments are appreciated.

 

 Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

SPIRAL AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT WHEN ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – PART 3

“If one were to crystallize twentieth-century psychology into a single problem, it would be the problem of fear in the face of overwhelming evolutionary forces in humanity as a whole. At the end of the century we thought we were past that problem. We are now in the thick of it.”

~ John Campbell on Twitter

In Part 1 (LINK) and Part 2 (LINK) of this series, I have laid out some of the issues to be considered when planning and implementing programs designed to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in spiritual communities and other organizations. Using the Spiral Dynamics™ Model, one can see how different evolutionary values systems (vMEMEs) give meaning to terms such as “diversity,” “inclusion,” “racism,” and “white privilege.” Thee is also the issue of complexity of thinking at the different values systems. When we fail to see the presence of these values systems, we either make them wrong, present issues in highly complex ways, or ignore them entirely. This lack of “spiral awareness” means that many well-intentioned programs fail to be compassionate and to achieve the desired results.

VMEMEs Simplified

The Values Systems (vMEMEs) of the Spiral Dynamics Model

It can be quite challenging from any point on the spiral to convey your values in such a way as they are understood by those centered at different levels. And, the “circular argument” (if you disagree with me/us it proves my/our point) is a sign that absolutism has entered the picture, which is unlikely to result in understanding or collaboration. While the concept of white privilege or straight while male privilege makes perfect sense to someone centered at the Green level of existence, it is very likely given a different meaning at other levels on the spiral. The result is that you think you are communicating one thing, but something else is being heard.

“Drawing a ‘privileged’ individual’s attention to the discrimination issue might be valuable (more awareness is better) but pushing them into the ‘perpetrator’ role (which personalized discussions of privilege do) rather than directly asking them to step up to help those disadvantaged is more likely to backfire and polarize potential allies than it is to solve the problem.”

~ Kylie Stedman 

What is needed to ensure the highest level of success in programs intending to encourage greater diversity and inclusion, or to raise awareness of racism and sexism, include the following:

  1. Spiral Awareness – a recognition that different values systems exist so meaning making is not uniform.
  2. A focus on desired behaviors – rather than on labels which will be interpreted differently. For example: saying that “white privilege” is a given, for example, will not be received well by white people* who are not centered at the Green level of existence. Since they are the target audience for the program, alienating them means less likelihood of a successful program.
  3. Sharing stories – have representatives of all groups in the community share their stories, which may be of oppression or the ignorance of oppression. There is nothing more powerful than hearing from people you know and can relate to.
  4. Cast a Vision – programs including a sense of vision for what is possible are very powerful. This process can be participatory as well, thus growing a vision which is shared by as many participants as possible.
  5. Provide counseling – some people are going to need assistance to process strong feelings which will arise during programs such as this. Consideration should be given to how to best provide counseling to those who need it.
  6. Understand: Not Everyone Will Get It – it is important to realize that a person may be open, arrested, or closed at any level on the spiral. Some will not be willing to expand their sense of reality to include the values being presented. This is to be expected.

Poster - Change is Good - You Go First

Cultural change requires time plus a deep understanding of the values systems present. It also requires an understanding of change itself; change is usually gradual with occasional leaps forward or setbacks, and often uneven. There needs to be proper support through the change process, especially for those with natural aversions to change (LINK) and for those for whom a particular change does not seem like a good idea.

Leadership has to be onboard with the change and has to model the desired behaviors in ways that everyone can see. Everyone’s value system must be acknowledged and approached in appropriate ways. This requires a lot from leaders and program managers, but the alternative is another program with little to no impact.

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

~ James Hollis

Beautiful Beginnings

As always, your comments are appreciated in the section below. Please consider following this blog if you are not already doing so (Click on the FOLLOW button), and feel free to share with your friends.

*People of Color centered in other values systems may understand white privilege differently than white people, however, they will still see it differently at each values system on the spiral.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

NOTE: I will soon be offering a two-part program in Spiral Dynamics™ for New Thought. Part one will be an introduction to the model; Part two, which is optional, will provide certification to teach and coach using Spiral Dynamics. More information soon.