WHEN ACTION IS NO LONGER A CHOICE. THE THEOLOGY OF DIETRICH BONHOEFFER AND NEW THOUGHT SOCIAL ACTION.

“Christianity stands or falls with its revolutionary protest against violence, arbitrariness, and pride of power, and with its plea for the weak.

Christians are doing too little to make these points clear . . .

Christendom adjusts itself far too easily to the worship of power. Christians should give more offense, shock the world far more, than they are doing now.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

You cannot read Dietrich Bonhoeffer (LINK) and remain comfortable in your inaction. One of the most profound theologians of the 20th Century, he died in a concentration camp in 1945 at the age of 39. His was a time of transition – Germany between the World Wars, where he saw the moral degradation of his society and the combination of inaction and complicity by his church. He became one of the great moral voices of his time, calling those of his faith tradition, Christianity, to step up their game, spiritually, morally, and actively. He escaped to the U.S., only to return to Germany at the height of the war – he saw this as a moral duty.

Bonhoeffer 2

Bonhoeffer

Insert New Thought in place of Christianity in the quote above and you get my point about moral clarity. For a relatively young faith tradition, we in the various branches of NewThought seem to have some calcified belief systems in place. Discussions about social justice and taking principled positions which may be political controversial often bring into question the “right” of a spiritual organization or the leadership of a spiritual community to take stands or request action beyond thoughts and prayers.

It is my belief that our failure to develop a culture of clarity around issues relating to social justice and well-being, and to translate that clarity into actions which become elemental to how we make our presence known, is a reason for the stagnation of our movement. We are too much talk, much of it inconsistent, and too little action.

“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Here, Bonhoeffer reminds us that there is no such thing as inaction. I am reminded of the great New Thought teacher, Raymond Charles Barker (LINK), who called indecision a decision to fail” in his classic book, THE POWER OF DECISION (LINK). Is Bonhoeffer’s statement above any different in meaning or clarity from Dr. Barker’s? The essence of the matter is that when we live only in our mind and do not engage with the world to bring our principles to light, we are, essentially, acting in opposition to our spiritual principles. We are keeping our principles hidden at great cost to those who would benefit by their expression, and possibly, at the cost of a more just society overall.

“The ultimate test for a moral society is the kind of world it leaves to its children.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Bonhoeffer - Dietrich

We in New Thought often stress cause and effect, saying little about morality. Yet we are guided by principles, mainly love, wisdom, and compassion, from which our society’s moral values arise. For us to do affirmative prayers (Spiritual Mind Treatments) for the world is certainly a powerful way to activate cause; but if this is all we do, expecting others to arise and carry out the effects of our prayers in the world, are we being honest with ourselves about how the creative process works?

In other words, can we seek to elevate ourselves above the chaos of acting in the world, do our affirmative prayers, and await a positive outcome? Isn’t that what spiritual bypass is? Carl Jung has a statement about this:

“People will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. they will practice (sic) Indian yoga and all its exercises, observe a strict regimen of diet, learn theosophy by heart, or mechanically repeat mystic texts from the literature of the whole world – all because they cannot get on with themselves and have not the slightest faith that anything useful could ever come out of their own souls. Thus the soul has gradually turned into a Nazareth from which nothing good can come. Therefore, let us fetch it from the four corners of the earth – the more far-fetched and bizarre it is the better!”

~ C. G. Jung. Collected Works, Vol 12

Sitting on your prayer mat or meditation cushion while exploring the spiritual practices of the world and never leaving that cocoon of safety, is a form of spiritual malpractice. It is a way of avoiding the work of the soul.

I serve on the Centers for Spiritual Living Committee on Spiritually Motivated Social Action. Our role is to assist the organization and local member communities to understand the guiding principles from our Organizational Design Model (ODM) and to apply them where appropriate in making statements and taking actions relating to social justice. Those who serve on this committee are very sensitive to the viewpoints for and against organizationally or local community-sponsored actions (and even statements). Again, I cannot speak for the dynamics relating to this in Unity – perhaps someone can in the comments section.

Some feel that as Religious Scientists, we should not be telling anyone what to do or how to live their lives; and certainly, not have organizational positions or actions. That should be up to each individual. This is a viewpoint that very likely would have been nearly universal in the movement for most of the 20th Century.

But times, and worldviews, have changed. In the originating documents which formed the basis for the Centers for Spiritual Living in 2011/12, the ODM contained values relating to being active in spiritually motivated social justice issues and causes. Here is some of the ODM language, which won over 98% of the vote at that time:

From Section Two – Our Global Vision: We envision a world where personal responsibility joins with social conscience in every area of the political, corporate, academic, and social sectors, providing sustainable structures to further the emerging global consciousness.

8.12.2. Cultural/Social Issues: CSL and its Member Communities are spiritual in nature; however, there may be a call for our principles to be expressed in contexts wider than one’s personal life and to be applied to collective and global issues.

To add a little Bonhoeffer gem here:

“We are not simply to bandage the wounds of the victims beneath the wheels of injustice, we are to drive a spoke into the wheel itself.”

~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

I, for one, am very tired of this so-called “debate.” Those who wish to operate from the worldview of the last century are welcome to do so, however, they might at least acknowledge that the issue is settled as far as the Centers for Spiritual Living is concerned. I am more interested in becoming an effective actor in the world, using my New Thought principles to guide me in making a difference. I am interested in speaking out against the regressive politics that currently dominate the US political landscape. I want to be a positive, and loud voice for good.

“Sometimes we just need a firm kick in the pants. An unsmiling expectation that if we mean all these wonderful things we talk about and sing about, then let’s see something to prove it.”

 ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Let my voice be clear and compassionate, my actions timely and effective, and let all be guided by the principles of the great New Thought teachers. I want to do so from a deep realization of those principles (LINK). Otherwise, what is the point?

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 4

How to Create a Welcoming Atmosphere for Deep Spirituality in a Spiritual Community

 Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“The best place to start on these complex initiatives is to get to the bottom, to the deepest tectonic plates that grind and gravitate from the past, shape and structure the present, and extend their stress fractures well into the future. All this happens in spite of our very best efforts on the surface. Until we go deep with major repair and realignment technologies, each succeeding generation will sing: ‘All we are say-ing is give peace a chance.’”

~ Phyllis Philomena Blees, President, Peace Through Commerce, Inc.

If you have read this series of posts (LINK), and agree there is value in having depth of spiritual awareness, practices, and realization in your spiritual community, you might be asking, how do I promote this? That is the subject of this final post in the series.

FIRST, LEADERSHIP

“A leader is a person who has an unusual degree of power to create the conditions under which other people must live and move and have their being, conditions that can be either as illuminating as heaven or as shadowy as hell. A leader must take special responsibility for what’s going on inside his or her own self, inside his or her consciousness, lest the act of leadership create more harm than good.”

~ Parker Palmer

 Spiritual Leadership is the essential element in the development of the atmosphere of a spiritual community. Leader(s) do this in a variety of ways. First and foremost, by being an example of the consciousness of sacred calling and personal mastery. This does not mean having no issues or knowing how to do everything. It means that one has clearly prepared in consciousness for the role; that one is a living example of the application of the teaching.

A second very important element is the setting of expectations. Are attendees encouraged to engage in deep spirituality? Are they consciously directed toward attending spiritual classes, engaging in spiritual conversations, and doing rigorous daily spiritual practices? This may seem elemental, and yet, I have seen many spiritual communities where little or nothing is expected of those who attend. Instead, there is a constant begging for donations, volunteering, class attendance, etc.

I swear, if I hear one more Sunday announcement like this, I will SCREAM:

This Wednesday’s Midweek Service features Rev. (not the spiritual leader) speaking on “Your Inner Power.” Please come out and support Rev. (not the spiritual leader).

How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) supporting those who attend?

How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) being known for delivering such amazing talks that you can’t keep the crowds small even if you charge admission and have a dress code? How about Rev. (not the spiritual leader) being known for such great depth and gravitas that she or he draws those who seek deep spirituality with ease? How about we stop apologizing, in effect, for letting this person speak, and find someone who has something to say? Spiritual Leader – why are you allowing this to happen in your spiritual community? Rant over.

SECOND, LEADERSHIP MUST BE EVOLUTIONARY

‎”I am personally convinced that one person can be a Change Catalyst, a ‘Transformer’ in any situation, any organization. Such an individual is yeast that can leaven an entire loaf. It requires vision, initiative, patience, respect, persistence, courage, and faith to be a Transforming Leader.”

~ Stephen Covey

Leadership is the key to the atmosphere and experience of spiritual community – not 100% of it, but the most significant part. And leadership in today’s world of spirituality needs to be evolutionary. That means that the leader(s) understands psychological and cultural development; recognizes that there are several developmental levels present in any group and that everyone is on a developmental pathwayemotionally, psychologically, socially, and spiritually. It also means that leaders are constantly in the business of developing leadership qualities in their students.

If this is so (and it is), is the process of teaching students in your spiritual community based upon the evolutionary developmental nature of learning? Or is everyone treated the same in every class; anyone can take any class at any point in their personal development? Is curriculum design and structure based on past, limited understanding of personal and cultural development? Or is there a deep understanding of the evolutionary nature of emergence?

“The ability to shift from reacting against the past to leaning into and presenting an emerging future is probably the single most important leadership capacity today.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Naturally, this need to have an evolutionary consciousness is in addition to having the talent to speak, teach, counsel, organize, manage, and lead. It is in addition to financial savvy, conducting great meetings, doing some conflict management, knowing how to dress and to be on time. All of this is necessary as well. However, if the leader is not coming from a deep understanding of evolutionary and developmental perspectives, and has not done her own deep work, the following will be true:

“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, Jungian Analyst

I strongly suggest that competent evolutionary leadership is the key to successful spiritual community in the post-postmodern world in which we currently live. Although it is NOT a substitute for competencies in other areas of spiritual leadership.

Leadership woman

That said, we also need to recognize that some come into spiritual leadership unprepared or needing greater emotional and spiritual maturity, or who experience setbacks or burnout (LINK). While this is not the topic of this post (see my book LINK for more on this), it is something which both local spiritual communities and spiritual organizations need to give serious attention.

THIRD, A PATH TO DEEP SPIRITUALITY.

Does your spiritual community have a clear pathway for those who desire to study, practice, and live their spirituality deeply? Those centered in the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence (LINK) on the spiral, may see this as elitism or labeling – remember the high value that Green places on egalitarianism. We need to see that everyone will not be interested in or have the aptitude for deep spiritual study, practice, and realization; and if we do not serve those who are, the entire spiritual community will suffer – it will have no core of deeply spiritual members to positively affect the vibration of the whole community. I think you know what I mean by that.

Deep spirituality from a developmental standpoint, helps one develop empathy – the capacity to experience a true sense of Oneness with others. Empathy is realized through an evolutionary process of awakening within each person, which must include deep psychological and spiritual work. Empathy is the important attribute to harmony in spiritual community. When empathy exists, truth can be spoken into a field of emotionally and spiritually intelligent receptivity. Things are not taken personally because the sense of feeling diminished has been healed.

“You have to do the work to develop real empathy. There’s a cost to evolving: if you want your soul to cross the line, there’s no way around emotional work. Face that deep pain, and you gain tremendous compassion for yourself. You feel compassion for those who have hurt you because they were hurt themselves. To really make yourself available to consciously create a new future, you have to do that work.”

~ Bruce Sanguin

New Thought spiritual leaders are in the business of developing spiritually realized beings. In the center where I took classes, the dividing line of sorts was practitioner class. One did not have to desire to become a licensed practitioner to take that class, but one did have an in-depth interview with the spiritual leader to get into the class. Those who indicated a strong desire to deepen their spiritual awareness and practices, and who already had a regular spiritual practice and worked with a practitioner were allowed into the class. Many of those dropped out as the class went along, due to the rigor of high expectations (there were other classes for them to take). But it was a breeding ground, if you will, for deep spiritual realization. And it worked pretty well.

 Baby reading Deepak

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 3

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

~ Franz Kafka, Diaries

If we are going to change our results in life, we must change our relationship with Source – our Inner Genius that is an individualized expression of the Universal Intelligence. Nothing is being withheld from us – our good lies in wait for us to evolve and develop to the point that we become welcoming conduits for its expression. If our current experience of life falls short of the ideal possibilities, then we have work to do – and we all have work to do.

Deep calls unto us – calling us to awaken to a greater Truth and to become welcoming conduits through which It can express fully. When enough of us have done this, the experience of humanity will be transformed. This series speaks to this idea in the context of committing to deeper spiritual practice and psychological development, so that we express more and more of our spiritual potential.

“People decide to live a spiritual life, they think it’s going to be all flower petals and incense; but really it’s much more like ‘I can’t eat my dinner because I’ve just learned something upsetting about myself.’”

~ David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Transcending the Mind

 This kind of deep spirituality involves the pain of self-discovery, as David Hawkins notes. As we arrive at each discovery, we inhabit our current levels of awareness and development, which determine our experience of the discovery. Pain and sadness are often on the pathway of spiritual awakening and deepening. Going deep is never easy for us. Where we are developmentally on the spiral will have a lot to do with whether and how we continue forward.

VMEMEs Simplified

“What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

~ Clare Graves

Spiral Dynamics™(LINK) shows us how the evolution of human consciousness (as complexity of thought and evolving values systems) creates the dynamics of our development. As we move up the spiral (assuming more complex external living conditions are present), we can display our values constructively or destructively. Each level on the spiral can be expressed in healthy or unhealthy ways. The depth and consistency of spiritual practices has a significant effect on this process.

Every spiritual community has several Levels of Existence (vMEMEs) present. It may be two or six. The levels generate dynamics within themselves and with other levels. The degree to which the levels present are healthy or unhealthy generate additional dynamics – it can get very complicated. When spiritual leaders fail to understand the nature of these dynamics and levels of existence, they make assumptions based on inadequate understanding – and often exaggerate or misdiagnose the problems and opportunities present.

The greater the degree of surface-level spirituality, the greater the degree of dysfunction present. We must create a healthy pathway for those at different vMEMEs to evolve and to go deeper within our spiritual communities, or we miss so many opportunities for spiritual realization.

“While genes evolve slowly, the decision systems formed by vMEMEs are always on the move. vMEMEs can be so dominant they seem like archetypes and are easily misinterpreted as ‘types’ of people. When several are in harmony, vMEMEs resonate like the notes in a musical chord. However, vMEMEs in conflict lead to troubled individuals, dysfunctional families, corporate malaise, fractured churches, and civilizations in decline and fall. Since they are ‘alive,’ vMEMEs can ebb and flow, intensify and soften like a string of Christmas tree lights on a dimmer. Several different ones may line up in support of a specific issue, idea, or project because they share the values contents. At other times, people with essentially the same vMEME decision-making frameworks may disagree violently over details of beliefs and what is ‘the good,’ degenerating into holy and un-civil war.”

~ Don Beck & Christopher Cowan, SPIRAL DYNAMICS

 While understanding the vMEMEs present is not a “magic solution,” it can lead to a greater awareness of the issues and dynamics at hand and how they are given meaning within the community. New Thought teachings are about transformation and change. Most people are evolving along the spiral all the time, and there are some common values emerging along the way. Also, levels alternate between individual and communal values systems – which has a significant effect on how we show up, both in their own spiritual growth and in spiritual community.

Each of the 1st Tier vMEMEs has its own positives and negatives when it comes to the issues of personal spiritual development, spiritual community, and the interplay of the two. As I have noted before (LINK) and in my book (LINK), the main vMEMEs or Levels of Existence present in New Thought spiritual community are Traditionalist-Blue, Modernist-Orange, and Postmodernist-Green. 2nd Tier, Integral-Yellow may also be present in small numbers. Lower levels on the spiral, Beige, Purple, and Red influence how higher levels show up as well, but tend not to be dominant values systems in modern communities.

Church - Blue-Orange-Green

Blue, in its healthy expression is likely to engage in deep practice if that is what the relevant authority says it should do. Unhealthy Blue may rebel (expressing Red) or follow a counter-authority. Healthy Orange will engage in deep practice if it is seen by them as being personally beneficial – remember, those centered at Orange are all about themselves. Unhealthy Orange will run roughshod over others and show up as competitive in a toxic sense. Healthy Green will seek an egalitarian and communal approach to practices, and will go deep if there are enough members of the community willing to participate, so long as it does not appear that others are being left out against their will. Unhealthy Green may demand deep practice of others, but find ways to avoid it themselves; they may also express judgmental attitudes toward others. Also at Green, there is a reawakening of Tribal-Purple, with its love of ritual and spirituality based on symbolism.

Face - stressed-out

The Frustration of Not Understanding Cultural Evolutionary Dynamics

Spiritual leaders may find themselves wondering how to organize these disparate values systems into something cohesive – in fact, this is a major challenge for spiritual leadership. Modern progressive spirituality, such as New Thought, is not exempt from this issue. The days when Traditionalist-Blue thinking dominated are gone, except in fundamentalist communities – meaning that people will not automatically obey authority any more (have you noticed?). Orange wants their needs met or they leave; Green insists that leaders ensure that everyone feels good about everything (and is anti-hierarchical as well, so suspicious of authority). Orange wants you to tell it like it is and Green wants you to tell it so no one gets upset.

“The growth of multiculturalism and globalization brings us rising levels of complexity and nuance. The ability to hold tension is absolutely essential. Fundamentalism—strict adherence to one’s view of the world as the only right way—is essentially a refusal to live in tension.”

~ David Livermore

I include a Spiral Dynamics view here because it can bring a greater depth to our overall understanding of the need for a deeper approach to spiritual growth, and the dynamic tensions involved both in our personal growth and in our spiritual communities. It contains opportunities for greater understanding of the dynamic processes affecting us as we develop. When we apply ourselves more fully to our practices, we reveal more of our inner splendor and genius, we are more fulfilled personally, and a greater contributor to all of humanity.

 

In Part 4 of the series, I will explore ways to create greater opportunities for deep spirituality in New Thought spiritual communities.

Beautiful Garden

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 2

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“I would be remiss if I did not sound a warning concerning the dangers associated with a radical change of consciousness.”

~ June Singer, Jungian Analyst

 This series is looking at bringing greater depth to spiritual teachings in New Thought. I realize that not only will some have no interest in this topic, some may even find it superfluous. But such is life.

The journey to spiritual realization is one made over time. There are no short cuts – not in the sense that permanent transformation (deep change) can come easily. Time is an essential ingredient. Even when we have some cathartic experience, whether an “AHA moment” or a major life event, the resulting changes must be integrated deeply into the psyche over time in a mellowing process. The deeply conditioned self is very stable – it does not change easily or quickly. We may feel changed at depth after a powerful workshop, but how often does that change translate into a truly new direction in life?

“It’s hard to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Those of us who are students and teachers of New Thought ought to be especially cognizant of this – we are in it for the long haul, not the quick fix. Ask any long-time spiritual leader what percentage of her students have evidenced deep, lasting, transformative change in their lives. The numbers will be small. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

How many have done serious shadow work; how many have examined the depths of their psyches even to the point of recognizing their own destructive subconscious patterns? How many have proven this by showing a mastery of even the basics of living a life? How many exist in a space where all their energies must go toward physical, financial, and social survival? How many have little or no energy left for the pursuit of the inner life of the mystical domains, where spiritual realization must be cultivated? How many have even developed consistent patterns of positive thought and emotion, regardless of in what circumstances they find themselves?

“To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is – not the quick little excitement, but the real deep, life-filling bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Secret Teachings Image

Every great spiritual teaching has elements that are inaccessible to the average consciousness. As a single example, the opening of the Gospel of Thomas (LINK) refers to what follows as the secret teachings, which are only to be made available to those who are ready to hear them. The danger in exposing an unprepared mind to great spiritual teachings is that they will be misunderstood and misused. It was a duty of a spiritual teacher in these traditions to determine what the student was ready to receive, and to give him or her only that much. Spiritual awareness is a process, and everyone isn’t at the same level of readiness at any given point. When we fail to include this truth in designing and teaching spiritual curricula, we set people up for failure – or, at minimum, place unintended obstacles in their path to spiritual realization.

Our inner integrity is always there, fully intact, in our deepest self. We have buried it, to one degree or another, through the accretion of false and limited beliefs over our lives. Spiritual development involves the gradual removal of this layer, the false ideas of self, and the revealing of that buried inner integrity with the goal of bringing it fully into our lives. We remember who we really are over time when we do the work of spiritual realization with rigor and determination. But at the beginning, we are ignorant, we think that our false and limited beliefs are the truth, and we fail to thrive. We seek what does not serve us, we dwell in anger and depression, we resist our teachers (and good teachers are essential in this process) and deny our true nature.

“The ego wants containment and control. It is only the soul that wants meaning and mystery. In fact, that is how I can know whether it is my ego that is leading me or the ‘brightness and the Holy Spirit.’ If I have not found a way to hear and allow that deeper level of soul, I will use all my roles, my relationships, and even my religion to fortify my ego and my private agenda.”

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

We begin our spiritual journey directed by our ego – the self-created aspect of the psyche which supports our current belief system. The ego is not a bad thing – think of it as the skeleton of the psyche, it will support whatever our dominant beliefs are. Our work is not to eliminate or destroy the ego, but to create a belief system or consciousness that is enlightened. We need to learn how to delve into the deep subconscious and eliminate the fear-based beliefs, replacing them with Truth. Our spiritual teacher(s) must have mastered this in her own life, and mastered how to teach it – two different things. And there is the fact that most people are not really interested in this level of spiritual growth – those who will go deep are few in number.

“Very few people ever mature. It is enough if they flower and re-seed. That is all that nature requires of them. But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable (sic). There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness.”

~ John Steinbeck

If we are not changing, actually transforming over time, we are staying in place, maintaining the same belief systems while simply adding some spiritual-growth jargon to our vocabulary. The question of this blog post is – are New Thought organizations and spiritual leaders aiding and abetting this kind of spiritual malpractice? Or are they doing everything in their power to create environments where transformation of consciousness is not only likely, but expected? Or are they sacrificing serious students of deep change to serve a larger group interested only in surface change?

Chart - Comfort Zone

Spiritual leadership of spiritual communities is a complex undertaking. One must be concerned with any number of aspects of operation of a community organization. However, there must be a focus on developing core deep spiritual principles within those students who are willing to do the work. This not only perpetuates the teaching at a high level, but provides a significant spiritual influence on the entire community. Where mastery is taught, and emphasized, all benefit.

In Part 3 of this series, I will address how this shows up on the spiral (LINK), and give some guidance as to how to encourage a deeper approach to spiritual education (and in my book (LINK), I thoroughly examine this); but for now, let’s just say that currently we in New Thought tend to take a very egalitarian approach to our spiritual education – there is little, if any, rigor with regard to determining readiness for advanced materials, and, for the most part, our “professional-leveleducation has drifted more toward job preparation than to the development of significant levels of spiritual realization and psychological health. It may be time to expand our conversation.

Beautiful Flower Lotus

 Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 1

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

This series speaks to the issue of spiritual maturity and deep spiritual work. The contents are not meant to offend or intimidate anyone. My intention is to speak to a deeper level of spiritual realization. In most of the world’s spiritual traditions, some teachings were kept secret from anyone not ready to receive them in a healthy way. In our modern tradition, we put warning labels on things.

You cannot hope to grow spiritually unless you are prepared to change. Those changes may come in small ways to begin with, but as you move further and further into the new, they will become more drastic and vital. Sometimes it needs a complete upheaval to bring about a new way of life. But it is amazing how soon you can get used to change as long as you have the courage and conviction that the changes which are in place are all for the very best. Let perfection always be your aim. Keep stretching. Keep reaching up to the seemingly impossible. Keep growing in wisdom and understanding and never at any time be content to remain static. There is always something new and wonderful to discover in this life, so expand your consciousness and your imagination to make room for it. Keep open and receptive so you miss nothing.”

~ Eileen Caddy

How many of us are willing to be open and receptive to such transformational change? How many are willing to go beyond mere lip-service and to do the deep spiritual and psychological work of radical self-discovery in order to experience radical self-acceptance? If you were told how much deep inner work, emotional development, psychic pain, and time would be required to achieve spiritual realization and master the important aspects of your life the first time you visited a New Thought spiritual community, would you come back a second time?

The Easter/Passover season is a good time to reflect on this question, as the deeper meaning of this time is transformation, or massive change. See my previous post on Holy Week (LINK) for more detail on this.

Cartoon - You Have to WANT to Change

While learning how to think affirmatively is an essential step in your spiritual growth, it is but one of many steps. Each of us carries shadow aspects (LINK) which we have been accumulating since our infancy, and these aspects have been repressed into our subconscious. We are not directly aware of them, but they are active in our lives – they affect our emotions, our worldviews, and our decision-making. We project these aspects onto others automatically and unconsciously. Ultimately, they form a barrier to further spiritual growth, as we develop much of our personalities in such a way as to avoid conscious awareness of our repressed selves.

Poster - Jung - Shadow

“Any serious spiritual work brings up the shadow, the rejected parts of your own psyche, which have to be faced and accepted. It’s the process of inner purification. Other spiritual paths may focus on purification through diet or yoga or good living or correcting bad habits. Our particular Sufi path has a very strong psychological element, and the purification is analogous to Jung’s ‘shadow work’ in which the rejected parts of one’s psyche come to the surface to be confronted, loved and accepted. This begins the process of transformation. As Jung said, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ Then he humorously added, ‘The latter process, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.’”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan Lee

A typical scenario can look like this: someone enters a New Thought spiritual community and learns how to think affirmatively, to visualize, to mediate. They practice these techniques and notice that the circumstances of their life improve. They continue for some time at this, taking classes, reading and so forth; and there is the benefit of being in spiritual community as well. After a year to 18 months, however, they notice that they have hit a wall in their growth – negativity seems unmoved by their efforts and spiritual growth appears to stop. What has happened is that they have used their newfound practices to attend to the aspects of their lives which were not bound by shadow aspects. But the shadow self remains untouched. Now the real work can begin.

Shadow Cartoon

The Shadow is Everything You Have Repressed About Yourself that did not fit your Idealized Self-Image

Unfortunately, this is the point where many give up, deciding that the teaching does not work. Some will leave, seeking guidance elsewhere; some will stay, but not pursue any deeper level of growth. Every spiritual community has long-term members who have not grown spiritually or psychologically since their first year or two of participation. Even more unfortunately, many New Thought spiritual leaders fail to guide their students through this inevitable stage of development. You don’t hear about this at Sunday services.

“You seem to harbor a deep negativity towards negativity, as something not to face but something to ignore.”

~ John Hogue

We get nowhere by ignoring the negativity in our lives. Likewise, we get nowhere by dwelling on the negativity in our lives. We only get somewhere when we begin the long journey toward replacing the negativity in our consciousness with something more positive. Some of this work is done at the surface level – by thinking more positively; but much of it is done by digging down deep into the psyche to root out the unconscious patterns we have developed, patterns which are largely immune to the occasional positive thought, or even to steady positive thinking that does not address them. Our teacher(s) can help guide us to this realization, but they cannot do the work for us.

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

Each of us must do our own inner work – once we learn how. And as we move forward in our spiritual growth, we may learn additional truths and tools to use. The wise teacher is one who assists the student in learning and using the appropriate level of spiritual teachings and spiritual tools. Our developmental growth must go in a certain order. We may be able to absorb a great deal of information intellectually very quickly, but our practice must follow a more deliberate path. The psyche is not the intellect; it has different rules, demands different approaches. Where intellectual learning is the absorption of information and the occasional “AHA moment,” the psyche is moved forward by emotional growth and deep practice – in a nonlinear manner.

“I have always believed myself to be possessed of two souls, one that lives on the surface of life, pleasing and pleased; the other as deep and as unfathomable as the ocean; a mystery to me and all who know me.”

~ Adah Isaacs Menken, 1862

The purpose of all these efforts toward spiritual growth is to open ourselves to our divine heritagelove, compassion, and meaning. This divine heritage lies just beyond the obstacles we have placed in our psyches during our lives – most unconsciously and unwittingly; but there they are. When we realize more of this heritage, we are ready to do the serious work of engaged spirituality to create The Beloved Community.

In part 2 of this series, we will further explore the way forward if we are to be healed at depth. And, while all in good fun, that warning label will still apply.

Beautiful Forest Stream Scene

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

HOLY WEEK – DEEPER MEANINGS

“What has always been basic to resurrection, or Easter, is crucifixion. If you want to resurrect, you must have crucifixion. Too many interpretations of the Crucifixion have failed to emphasize that. They emphasize the calamity of the event. And if you emphasize calamity, then you look for someone to blame. That is why people have blamed the Jews for it. But it is not a calamity if it leads to new life. Through the Crucifixion we are unshelled, we are able to be born to resurrection. That is not a calamity. We must look freshly at this so that its symbolism can be sensed.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That (LINK)

Dali - Passion of the Christ

The Crucifixion by Salvador Dali

Joseph Campbell, in these quotes, brings clarity to the meaning of this season. The idea that the crucifixion is a necessary element in the resurrection, is of major importance to those on a spiritual pathway. In New Thought, we generally recognize this, although it is a difficult concept – a place where an incomplete understanding can lead to harm. A limited or incorrect understanding can lead to a glib “IT’S ALL GOOD!” to someone in the midst of the suffering of their “crucifixion” experience, denying the hard work and suffering involved. Or the focus can be on the crucifixion itself, thus denying us the necessary understanding to move toward the resurrection, or healing and elevation to a new level. We are called by our challenges to awaken something within ourselves that heretofore has not been awakened.

“St. Augustine speaks of going to the Cross as a bridegroom to his bride. There is an affirmation here. In the Prado is a great painting by Titian of Simon of Cyrene as he willingly helps Jesus with the cross. The picture captures the human participation, the free, voluntary participation we all must have in the Easter-Passover mystery.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

The crucifixion experience can also be voluntary, as in the acceptance of a great challenge that will involve sacrifice and suffering but may well lead to a transformation of the self. St. Augustine references the willingness of Jesus to enter the ordeal, it is the gateway to his greatest miracle, even though it is fraught with danger and difficulty. It is the only way forward if he is to fulfill his mission, and so he goes willingly – not without fear – but consciously forward.

We tend to get stuck in the suffering part, don’t we? Much of Christianity is stuck in the symbolism of the suffering of Jesus, with relatively little focus and celebration of the resurrected Christ – the glowing, transformed figure who found it so difficult to connect with his former followers according to the Gospels. When you are transformed, it is difficult for those who knew the former version of you to accept your new manifestation of self. And there is no getting to that new you without a crucifixion experience of some kind.

Poster - No Mud No Ressurection

“Easter is calculated as the Sunday that follows the first moon after the vernal equinox. It is evidence of a concern centuries before Christ to coordinate the lunar and solar calendars. What we have to recognize is that these celestial bodies represented to the ancients two different modes of eternal life, one engaged in the field of time, like throwing off death, as the moon its shadow, to be born again; the other, disengaged and eternal. The dating of Easter according to both lunar and solar calendars suggests that life, like the light that is reborn in the moon and eternal in the sun, finally is one.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Thou Art That

In this passage, Campbell speaks to the ongoing recognition of the rebirth of life, a recognition that is symbolically larger in scope than the Christian Easter. For centuries, perhaps millennia, humans recognized the time of the Spring Equinox as representation of rebirth. This essential idea is shared by all of humanity. The Christian story personalizes it for the followers of Christian religion(s), so as to encourage followers of that pathway to have courage and to engage life more fully.

In New Thought, we learn that this cycle of death to the old and rebirth to the new is ongoing – it is a moment by moment experience. It is our nature to leave the old ideas behind and to embrace new ideas as they emerge or are discovered. There is always some degree of discomfort in this process, some need to grieve what is being left behind, some awkwardness in mastering the new. When we accept this as our nature, however, we enter into the ongoing changes of life “as a bridegroom to his bride” as St. Augustine wrote. When we consciously choose to develop, we enter the challenges willingly and our transformations become easier (for the most part anyway).

The Holy Week message is one of preparation to rise to a new level of being. We prepare by repenting (releasing) our limitations, doing our inner work to transform our consciousness to create a receptivity to the new. Then, we move through the “crucifixion” – whatever the personal challenge and discomfort are – and allow the inner change to gestate, finally rising as the new consciousness. In this way, we are transformed. The risen Christ Consciousness within is awakened an expresses as a new version of selfawakened and read to contribute in a larger way to the well-being of ourselves and our planet.

Dali-2 - Egg

The moment you stand up and claim your divinity,
Christ is reborn within your heart,
Buddha rejoices,

Mohammed dances upon the mountaintop,
Lao Tzu winks approvingly
And the Promise of the Tree of Life is Fulfilled.

And I know that the hand of God is the promise of my own,
And I know that the spirit of God is the brother of my own
And that all the men ever born are also my brothers,
And the women my sisters and lovers….

~ Walt Whitman

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

THERE’S “AUTHENTIC” AND THEN THERE’S “AUTHENTIC.” THE DIFFERENCE IS IMPORTANT

“The only Zen you find at the top of the mountain is the Zen you bring with you.”

~ Zen Proverb

We speak and write a lot about “being authentic” in New Thought. And, to be sure it is a desirable state – one where your behaviors are in alignment with your best self.

Sign - Self Knowledge

But, what if you are not in touch with your True Self or highest self and a spiritual teacher tells you to “be authentic.” What happens then?

“The problem with telling someone to be authentic is that they might be an authentic jerk.”

~ Lou Tice

Face - Angry 3

When we are not in touch with our True Self and we are given permission, or encouraged to “be authentic,” what may well happen is some very destructive behavior. While acting out in such a way may be cathartic and possibly lead to some greater realization, it may also lead to a retreat from the True Self. The person may bully others or retreat into depression, as the anger so near the surface can no longer be denied. After all, a two-year-old can be very authentic when biting her sister.

That admonition to “be authentic” can be an invitation to destructive behavior – for our sense of what it means to be authentic is determined by our degree of self-awareness. Even if we are aware that our True Self is Love, we may be some distance away from developing the ability to express that Love consistently. And make no mistake, your authentic self is Love and Wisdom. There is no trace of woundedness, anger, or separation – all of those things arise in our ego mind.

At the level of ego, our “authentic self” is whatever is currently programmed into our reactive mind – our first impulse, if you will. On the other hand, our true “authentic self” is that deepest aspect of Wisdom and Love which we may or may not have accessed in our learning and practice.

This difference between a sense of what is our authentic self is dependent upon our level of development. It is a felt sense. Few if any of us are so fully realized as to be in perfect alignment with our authentic self at the deepest level, so the actualization of our authenticity is always a work in progress. It is an important first step to be aware of this gap between our level of development and our full potential so that we have the humility to see that we have a way to go.

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

The True Authentic Self is at the level of the soul. It is the soul made visible. This self does not need to be empowered – IT ALREADY IS EMPOWERED. It simply needs to be revealed.

“Do not adopt the letter of my teaching, but the spirit, and you will find, as I did, that you will begin to formulate a system that is true for you. I learned for me, and you must learn for yourself that you must develop your own faith and confidence in your own interpretation of God, humanity, and the universe.”

~ Ernest Holmes

Here, Dr. Holmes urges us to go beyond our reading and listening of the teaching, to internalize it and to bring forth our own highest version of the principles to which we are exposed. Rather than becoming rote learners who can recite some quotations, we actualize the unrealized aspects of our own unique potentials and express them in our lives. In doing this work, our sense of the “authentic self” expands and deepens. We must in a sense depart from the doctrine we are taught so as to embody it more fully via our own uniqueness. How we do this without our fear-based ego convincing us that we are already fully realized is our greatest challenge at this stage. Humility is the key to moving forward – a combination of confidence and uncertainty held in balance.

Holmes ABC

“Let me repeat that ours is not an authoritative religion. We have a textbook, which is the accumulation of the greatest teachings of the ages but we haven’t any idea of becoming a closed system. We have two possibilities; we can become so narrow that we never grow or we can be so broad that we have no depth. It is up to us to find the place in between which gives freedom without giving the freedom to destroy the freedom which makes freedom possible!”

~ Ernest Holmes, “The Seminar Lectures”

As we explore the landscape of our society and its politics, we can see that the reactive mind is at the fore. Things are said, written, posted, and actions are taken that are out of harmony with movement to a higher level of being. This shows the difficulty of coming into alignment with our higher selves in a culture that has all but abandoned such an effort in our public discourse, our media, and entertainment. But we, as students of New Thought principles, must rise above the noise and distractions of the world of appearances.

 “If we are to achieve a richer culture, rich in contrasting values, we must recognize the whole gamut of human potentialities, and so weave a less arbitrary social fabric, one in which each diverse human gift will find a fitting place.”

~ Margaret Mead

Our social fabric is always a reflection of our combined consciousness. What is unfolding in the world today is no different – it is a call to find that deeper, truer “authentic self” within us and to bring it forth into expression. We must learn the spiritual principles, do our daily work to internalize and personalize them (without diluting them), and then bring them into action. It is our greatest calling.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

INTRODUCING “CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS”

SD Online Class Web Flyer 2017 - full

I am very pleased to introduce CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY WORKSHOPS, a series of online seminars designed to bring the concepts in the book alive and to give spiritual leaders the tools to thrive in these times of rapid change.

We will begin with my popular Introduction to Spiral Dynamics™ a look into the most useful model of cultural evolution and human development available today. In four 2-hour sessions, you will learn the basics of the model and how to use it effectively. There will also be a focus on how to use the Spiral Dynamics Model to help people understand the dynamics of the current politics of the U.S. and Europe. I am a certified presenter of Spiral Dynamics, and have conducted dozens of in-person and online training sessions.

For an investment of just $69, this is a real bargain. And that includes a SPIRAL DYNAMICS BOOKLET in PDF format for each registrant, plus additional handout materials.

Dates and times:

APRIL 10, 13, 17, & 20

4:30pm – 6:30pm Pacific Time/7:30pm – 9:30pm Eastern Time

I recommend that you consider having your entire leadership team take the online class, so that you can make use of the materials more quickly and effectively in your organization. As an organization, you can receive one free registration for every four paid registrations.

All sessions will be recorded, and registered participants can access the recordings for 30 days after the seminar concludes.

To register for this teleseminar, email me at

JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com

You will receive an invoice to pay the $69 seminar fee. Once you have paid, you will receive a link to the first session via email. We will use Zoom.us technology for the teleseminar, or you can join by telephone.

If you have not yet read CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, you can get your copy by clicking on the link below:

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

The book will be available soon from Devorss.com (LINK).

cover

Future teleseminars will include topics such as:

  • Theory U
  • Spiritual and Emotional Intelligence
  • Steps to Creating The Beloved Community
  • Spiral Dynamics™ Part 2

If you have any questions, email me at JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com.

The deadline for registrations is April 9, 2017.

Spiral - Burn Your Old Ways of Thinking

 

MUSINGS ON CUBA, US POLITICS, AND THE POSSIBILITY OF LOVE

Last weekend, Dorianne and I joined six thirty-somethings (i.e. millennials) for a weekend in Havana, Cuba. I have been especially interested in Cuba since my days as a police officer in Miami-Dade County, working alongside many Cuban-Americans. I never thought I would visit Cuba in this lifetime, but, things change and we went.

Cuba is very enigmatic. There is great poverty visible in Havana, but also a great spirit. People were generally open and friendly; music streamed out of nearly every home, no matter how impoverished. Despite being a communist country, there is plenty of entrepreneurial activity – taxis, restaurants, bars, etc., where business is transacted. My sense is that if the current trend toward greater openness is continued, the country will transform in coming years toward a more free and prosperous society. And yet, most churches are either closed or converted to performance spaces, as is the one pictured below.

Here are some photos.

 

Returning from Cuba, I must say that I find the current state of US politics very disturbing. It is as if the two nations are going in different directions. Our newly elected federal government is taking an approach that seems to violate both progressive and conservative principles (LINK). There is little sense of respect for humanity, nor is there a sense of government as being public servants. The initial White House budget proposal drastically cuts many essential services and unnecessarily (IMHO) builds up the military budget which is already bloated (and for conservatives, no balanced budget in sight). And, of course, The Wall must be funded. Historians will note that this is a pattern that every declining society has taken since the Romans – taking funds from arts and citizen support programs and pouring money into the war machine.

That said (full disclosure: my viewpoint is progressive), the US is a nation divided and many people (37% in a new Gallup poll ) support the actions of the new administration.

So, what is a spiritual leader to do?

First, he can remember this quote from Mark Twain:

“In religion and politics people’s beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand and without examination from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing.”

~ Mark Twain

Second, she can remember this quote from Bertolt Brecht:

“The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” 

~ Bertolt Brecht

Third, he can remember this quote from Tariq Ramadan:

“You can’t say ‘I don’t do politics,’ because silence is a political statement.”

~ Tariq Ramadan

And fourth, she can remember this quote from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee:

“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

1a politics

Spiritual leaders cannot, must not, attempt to be apolitical, for there is really no such thing. Often the spiritual leader does not want to upset or alienate someone in the membership who holds different beliefs. Would this hold true if there were a Nazi or a Maoist in the membership? Is it an absolute position or is it a matter of degree? Or they do not wish to get into the coarseness of the political realm; but that is the nature of that realm at this time, and the level of discourse can only be elevated by reasonable voices for compassion. Where are such voices going to come from?

And if the spiritual leader is teaching the importance of spiritual principles being applied to the larger world, and some public figure or institution is, in the judgement of that leader, in violation of those principles, is not speaking out really an option? Can we fail to speak out or to act and still see ourselves as not being political?

My readings of The Science of Mind and other New Thought philosophies make it clear to me that ours is a politics of Oneness, Love, and Compassion. Also, the teachings say that through the realization of our own inner Power we can make our own way in the world. This can be seen as a conservative element of New Thought, in alignment with the American conservative ideal of the “rugged individualist.” It is often used to justify cutting programs for the poor, for instance, out of the belief that if the program is not there, the poor person will be more likely to realize his or her own inner power sooner.

But the founders of New Thought saw themselves as Christian, too. To them the idea of holding someone accountable for a level of consciousness that they had not actualized was wrong. This was why Christian Science, with its expectation of high consciousness from all, even those new to the teaching, as reflected in a dogmatic prohibition of medical care, was never a part of the New Thought family.

We in New Thought also bring something else to the equation – the idea of unlimited possibility, available in full in each moment, accessible to anyone who becomes receptive to it. This critical aspect of New Thought philosophy comes with a very steep requirement – that we be willing to release anything – ANYTHING – that does not serve the emergence of the new possibility. This statement from Abraham Lincoln speaks to this idea from a time before our New Thought Movement existed:

“It is not, Can any of us imagine better? but, Can we all do better? The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise – with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.”

~ Abraham Lincoln

And from Ernest Holmes, the developer of The Science of Mind:

“We shall often need to announce that the Truth which we announce is superior to the condition we are to change. When the inner consciousness agrees with Truth, then – and not until then – a demonstration takes place.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind

Our politics is Oneness, Love, and Compassion. It will be brought about through principled engagement in the world around us. Can we be silent to a world that cries out for healing?

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

ON WOMEN AND MEN ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF WOMEN

“The experience of the feminine is the psychological key to both the sickness of our time and its healing.”

~ Marion Woodman

I’ll be relatively brief here, sticking a toe into a vast ocean of possible discussion. It is the International Day of Women. The mere fact that such a day exists speaks to the way that women have been viewed in nearly every culture since humans evolved from earlier primates. Their place in the gender rankings has been a distant second. The best that can be said of western culture today is that there is some recognition of that and an additional recognition of the wrongness of it. That recognition, of course, is not complete, and it is not even universally shared by women. I won’t go into a litany of wrongs committed against women; suffice to say that they are legion and no woman is untouched by them. Nor is any man. Men tend to be less aware of that fact, but a fact it is.

And I can only see this dynamic as a cis-gendered white male; therefore, I need to leave the presentation of different perspectives to others.

Divine Feminine -Sophia

We are all wounded in one way or another and we often project that woundedness onto others. Women and men, lovers of all genders, have been doing that since the beginning of time. That, too is part of our healing journey, and must be addressed as we move forward.

Erica Jong and Sylvia Plath have described the issue well:

“Growing up female in America. What a liability! You grew up with your ears full of cosmetic ads, love songs, advice columns, whoreoscopes, Hollywood gossip, and moral dilemmas on the level of TV soap operas. What litanies the advertisers of the good life chanted at you! What curious catechisms!”

~ Erica Jong

 

“Being born a woman is an awful tragedy… Yes, my consuming desire to mingle with road crews, sailors and soldiers, bar room regulars – to be a part of a scene, anonymous, listening, recording – all is spoiled by the fact that I am a girl, a female always in danger of assault and battery. My consuming interest in men and their lives is often misconstrued as a desire to seduce them, or as an invitation to intimacy. Yet, God, I want to talk to everybody I can as deeply as I can. I want to be able to sleep in an open field, to travel west, to walk freely at night.”

~ Sylvia Plath

It has been said (and I happen to agree) that racism can be eradicated, but that sexism is here to stay. I think that there is truth in that because sexism is a by-product of sexual attraction. People are attracted to one another, they may fall in love or just in lust, but such experiences tend to cloud the mind and create chaos in many situations. But that does not mean that we cannot greatly improve the nature of our relationships with one another.

“A girl in a bikini is like having a loaded gun on your coffee table. There’s nothing wrong with them, but it’s hard to stop thinking about it.”

~ Garrison Keillor

 

“Sometimes you walk past a pretty girl on the street and there’s something beyond beauty in her face, something warm and smart and sensual and inviting, and in the three seconds you have to look at her, you actually fall in love, and in those moments, you can actually know the taste of her kiss, the feel of her skin against yours, the sound of her laugh, how she’ll look at you and make you whole. And then she’s gone, and in the five seconds afterward, you mourn her loss with more sadness than you’ll ever admit to.”

~ Jonathan Tropper

These two quotes speak both to the conditioning of men in our society and to the biological reality of attraction – regardless of the gender(s) involved. But I would suggest that it is masculine energy that is more romantic, the feminine is more practical. How many times has a woman found a way to keep the household running while the man pursues his dreams? How many women have made a relationship begin or end while the man hesitates to share his feelings or to act?

“I, with a deeper instinct, choose a man who compels my strength, who makes enormous demands on me, who does not doubt my courage or my toughness, who does not believe me nave or innocent, who has the courage to treat me like a woman.”

~ Anaïs Nin

“The more a man swaggers, the more insecure he is in his own masculine nature.”

~ James Hollis

 

Women of New Thought

Some Women in New Thought – Past and Present

We in New Thought are not immune from sexism, although I would suggest the inner examination that naturally comes with our studies, we are often more aware of the issues and interested in equality than others may be. However, although a number of women figured prominently in the founding of New Thought denominations, we have had very few women in positions of top leadership in our more recent history. None of us knows our unconscious and we are all surprised by the things that arise from within us from time to time. Our early conditioning is strong and must be confronted and changed where it results in limited thinking of any kind. When we recognize and integrate our inner masculine and feminine natures within ourselves, we will be better able to integrate them with others to form a more compassionate and wise society.

“The I Ching, the Chinese Book of Changes, recognizes the continual shifts that go on within the individual. The Yang power, the creative masculine, moves ahead with steadfast perseverance toward a goal until it becomes too strong, begins to break – and then the Yin, the receptive feminine, enters from below and gradually moves toward the top. Life is a continual attempt to balance these two forces.”

~ Marion Woodman

woodman

Marion Woodman

Today, I celebrate women, the divine feminine in all of us, and the possibility for greater equality in our world. The feminine mind and heart has transformational power, and the world is crying out for transformation.

So, teach your children well. And do your spiritual work to realize a world in which everyone is seen as capable of giving their genius to all. The Beloved Community
can only be realized when we join together as one.

A closing quote from Marion Woodman on the crone, which speaks to one possibility of the feminine.

“The crone is the woman who has faced crossroads in her life and has chosen to live with acceptance and love, rather than closing down with resentment. She has expanded into life, losing the ego drive and opening to the full energy of the unconscious. She is a surrendered instrument, living out of her soul. She is an instrument through which the god and goddess energy moves. She comes from love, rather than from ego power. The dark side of the crone is power, because she has intuitive powers that can give her control of other people if she wants to use them that way. The other side of the crone is the love flowing through her that is an immense healing presence. She has a very finely developed masculinity. A highly developed discrimination, discernment, capacity to act. She is like a tuning fork in an environment. Because of who she is, her environment is different because she is there.”

~ From Marion Woodman

Your Comments are welcomed.

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

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Available in paperback or Kindle editions

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