LIVING SYSTEMS SEEK WHOLENESS THROUGH HEALING

“Carl Jung said that if you find the psychic wound in an individual or a people, there you also find their path to consciousness. For it is in the healing of our psychic wounds that we come to know ourselves.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

“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

When we begin to see things as Living Systems, rather than as independent organisms or structures, our perception and understanding can expand to greater capacities. Living systems (LINK to Prior Post) can best be seen as integrated with their environment, as being massively complex, beyond what our human brains can fully grasp, and as being interdependent on other systems and bio-systems for mutual existence. The underlying intelligence of living systems seeks the fullest realization of wholeness – to express itself fully and in the healthiest way possible. There is a deep primal urge within all living systems to do just that – express fully.

“An inner wholeness presses its unfulfilled claims upon us.”

~ Emma Jung in “The Holy Grail”

You are a living system, as am I. Your family is a living system, as is your spiritual community, your workplace, your city, state, nation, and all of humanity. The earth is a living system. A benefit of seeing these things as living systems is the transformation of our perception and understanding from linear, separate sense of what we are to a systems understanding. For example, I cannot be fully understood without taking my family into account – and that can be done in innumerable ways, via genetics, culture, etc. We can never fully understand any living system but using the concept can help us guide these systems with greater wisdom.

Living systems have immune systems. You as an individual have a physical immune system and emotional and spiritual immune systems. These are elements of you which act to protect some aspect of you and keep you healthy. Groups have immune systems as well; some aspect of group immune systems are visible, most are not. It is important to come to see that at the deepest and most holistic levels, every living system wants to heal anything in the way of the fullest expression of that system.

“The manifestation of emotional and psychosomatic symptoms is the beginning of a healing process through which the organism is trying to free itself from traumatic imprints and simplify its functioning. . .. when properly understood and supported, this process can be conducive to healing, spiritual opening, personality transformation, and evolution of consciousness.”

~ Stanislav Grof, Shift Magazine, June-August 2004

Beautiful Nautilus

Healing is something intrinsic within all living systems, from the smallest to the largest. And coming to see that the appearance of symptoms is a positive step in the healing process of a living system is revelatory. We can then shift our emotional and mental approaches to being helpful rather than harmful (such as seeing the symptom as something alien to be defeated). Our political systems are evidencing negative symptoms in more and more profound ways today – this means that larger human living systems are in the process of healing themselves for a move to a higher evolutionary level of existence. Can we become better at stewarding this process? Can we at least stop acting in ways which obstruct the natural ability of living systems to heal? Can we heal the parts of ourselves which, out of fear and ignorance, cause us to make the symptoms worse, threatening the whole system with collapse?

“The soft flakes of healing are falling all around you all the time, even on your shadow.”
~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Whatever is being identified as “being wrong” in yourself, in your family, in your spiritual community, in your nation, must be viewed and treated as a healing in process. We must shift our attention and intention to greater truths than we have been conditioned to believe up until now. Wholeness seeks to express via the emergence of new, sometimes radically new, ways of being. Emergence and evolution are the vehicles which facilitate these onward expressions in every living system. We are either in or out of harmony with these processes.

A new kind of leadership is required for this transition. As Nora Bateson writes, “Whatever leadership used to be—it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were.” We simply cannot continue the path(s) we are on if we are to make the significant changes – what have been called whole system changes – which are required for the forward evolution of humanity. Leaders, including spiritual leaders, need to be prepared differently, selected differently, and need to operate differently in the near term of our emerging future. They must become versed in complexity, in systems thinking, in radical change processes, and in helping to shepherd others who are unprepared for the age we have entered – an age of unrelenting change affecting every living system.

Our spiritual practices can be about creating an inner willingness to trust the larger wisdom within ourselves an all of us. We must cultivate our inner wisdom to be harmonious with the truth that every living system seeks its highest form of expression. This is an elegant way to view ourselves and the world. Fortunately, it is also a realistic way to view the world.

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

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

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

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

More and more spiritual communities are using this book for spiritual leadership development. You can order bulk copies from Devorss.com. Or, just get one for yourself or to give as a gift at Amazon.com (.ca .eu)

 

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THRIVING SKILL: POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 2

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

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

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

Polarity Management 9

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Define the issue.

  2. Include key stakeholders.

  3. Build the polarity map.

  4. Understand how polarities work.

  5. Assess realities with this polarity.

  6. Determine action steps and early warnings.

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

Polarity Management 10

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

Beautiful Flower - Water Lilly

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

~ Anaïs Nin

Your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

THRIVING SKILL: MASTERING POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 1

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

~ Unknown

Complex Problem

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

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

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

~ C.G. Jung

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarity Management 5.png

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

Polarity Management 6

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

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

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarities Statement

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

Your comments are always welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

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

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

~ Robert Schuller

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

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

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

~ James Baldwin

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

whitelion

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

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

~ Zadie Smith

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

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

~ Stacey Jean Speer

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

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

~ Ovid

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

 

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

~ Anne Lamott

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

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

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

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

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

 

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

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

~ Jack Barakat

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

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

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

Positive Gathering Jan 2018.png

 

 

CONSENSUS AND THE EVOLUTION OF PEOPLE AND ORGANIZATIONS, PART 1

“You must constantly transcend your present positions, indeed, even perhaps contradict them altogether.”

~ Johann Wolfgang Goethe

Consensus (LINK) is a form of decision-making used in a number of New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. This series of posts is designed to explore the evolutionary nature of consensus and its pros and cons.

I believe that people and organizations (which are people in groups) evolve by design. That is, they change over time in a developmental manner, moving through generally understood stages of growth. Individuals and organizations evolve physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. They evolve toward greater complexity, an evolutionary process driven by the increasing complexity of the world around them. If they fail to adapt (evolve) to the external level of complexity (living conditions), they suffer to one degree or another, since they are unable to fully engage with the world in which they find themselves. If they get too far behind, their suffering is more serious.

Cartoon - Evolution - More Steps

In the individual, this evolutionary process involves many factors, as mentioned above – our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual natures are all evolving at different rates. It is important to understand concepts and models such as emotional intelligence (LINK), spiritual intelligence (LINK), Presencing (LINK), and Spiral Dynamics(LINK). We are at different places along the developmental measures of these various models and instruments; so, in effect, each of us has a different “evolutionary code”; we are unique in that way.

This, of course, makes groups and organizations even more complex mixtures of individuals and their developmental levels. I have explored a number of these factors in this blog over time, and in my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (LINK). Spiritual Leaders lacking an understanding of the dynamics involved will be at a loss to guide their communities forward through times of rapid external change. Decision making processes, the topic of this post, emerge like other elements of organizational behavior, as spiritual communities move on the spiral (see Spiral Dynamics LINK). We may think that we are having new ideas, but they are more a reflection of what is newly emerging within us as we adapt (or fail to) to increasing external complexity.

“Evolution has not shaped an all-knowing computer, but rather a modular computer for making different decisions based on different contexts.”

~ Jason Collins

Which brings me back to the Green Level of Existence, Values System, or vMEME (LINK) (LINK). Each level or vMEME on the spiral will have decision-making processes which align with the vMEME values of that level. For example, at Traditionalist-Blue, something resembling a monarchy with a form of bureaucracy is a likely decision model; at Modernist-Orange, we get democratic forms – people vote, and we get autocratic leadership in many settings.

Green vMEME

At Postmodernist-Green, where values include egalitarianism, relativism (one belief is no better nor worse than another), every voice must be heard, a bias against hierarchy, and a high regard for feelings, consensus is often the decision-making process that is favored. Before I go into the pros and cons of consensus decision-making in Part 2 of this series, I need to point something out. Those centered at Green strive to be non-judgmental and they seek intimacy in groups and spiritual community. This arises due to the immense complexity of thought at the Green level. It creates a broader and deeper view of possibility, and widens the field of choice, but at a cost. I’ll let philosopher Ken Wilber point out an issue with Green’s tendency toward no judgements:

“It’s the calamity you’ve discussed, the calamity of our generation, that we’ve come to think that you’re morally good if you don’t make judgments. But that’s exactly wrong. You’re morally good if you make the right kind of judgments. And you have to learn how to make wise judgments in order to make moral decisions. But what we do, because we understandably don’t want to marginalize anyone or unfairly judge, is to say, therefore, don’t judge at all. And so we stand back with no moral compass, no judgments, no discriminating wisdom, and basically the whole show goes to hell because of that. So in the midst of saying that nothing is better or worse than anything else, even on a relative plane, if you then have an experience of satori or kensho or oneness, it reinforces your broken moral compass. And this broken moral compass, combined with your realization, is what you call spirituality.”

~ Ken Wilbur

When it comes to making decisions, holding people accountable, and dealing with conflict, spiritual leaders who are centered at Green often find themselves unable to act clearly and forcefully. Green tends to have a high tolerance for dysfunction due, in part, to the value of not upsetting people. Green-centered leadership will often let disruptive behavior go on for some time without speaking up about it, as being non-judgmental becomes more important than accountability. This creates real problems for the spiritual community, who must operate in a sub-optimal atmosphere. Also, the fact that Green is the level where spiritual communities are often moving toward a possible transition to 2nd Tier (LINK), the absence of strong leadership can be devastating.

In Part 2, I will look at the pros and cons of decision-making by consensus, and why that form of decision-making works only at the Green Level of Existence.

As always, your comments are encouraged! Please consider following this blog and sharing the link with your friends.

Photo Jul 04, 1 26 08 PM.jpg

My view this week in Connemara, Ireland

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CO.UK)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 4

“It is an ironic habit of human beings to run faster when they have lost their way.”

~ Rollo May

ELP Butterfly

In Parts 1 through 3 of this series (LINK), I have suggested an idea about the nature of the Postmodernist-Green Level of Existence from the Spiral Dynamics™ Model. Namely, that the Green Level is where organizations go to die – in the sense that the caterpillar enters the chrysalis to die as the caterpillar, but to emerge as the butterfly.

Green nature has many facets, and it also provides a “launching pad” into 2nd Tier Levels of Existence. 2nd Tier is starkly different from 1st Tier. The preparation for what Clare Graves (LINK) called the ”momentous leap” from the Green Level to the Yellow Level is nothing if not significant, requiring a massive change in consciousness.

“To move beyond the Green memetic mindset and consciousness requires that you start to really and honestly understand, appreciate, and respect your own and other people’s incomparable cosmic singularity. So long as you compare yourself with others (equality is a term of comparison) you will remain in the mode of deficiency. When you realize your and other people’s incomparability, you enter the existential mode of abundance and start to live in the world of abundance and plenitude.”

~ Yasuhiko Genku Kimura, President & CEO, Vision-In-Action, LLC

2nd Tier consciousness is not fear-based. That is a huge distinction, as most of our energies when we occupy 1st Tier levels go into self-protection, ego defenses, and creating the structures which provide these. As we move to 2nd Tier, this changes, moving into an empowered, love-based ego structure. There is currently no well-defined pathway into 2nd Tier, but this transition clearly requires significant changes in one’s self-image.

“Human consciousness does not emerge at any depth except through struggling with your shadow. I wish someone had told me that when I was young. It is in facing your conflicts, criticisms, and contradictions that you grow up. You actually need to have some problems, enemies, and faults! You will remain largely unconscious as a human being until issues come into your life that you cannot fix or control and something challenges you at your present level of development, forcing you to expand and deepen. It is in the struggle with our shadow self, with failure, or with wounding, that we break into higher levels of consciousness. I doubt whether there is any other way. People who refine this consciousness to a high spiritual state, who learn to name and live with paradoxes, are the people I would call prophetic speakers. We must refine and develop this gift.”

~ Richard Rohr

Sign - Self Knowledge

When an organization or spiritual community emerges into the Green Level of Existence, one of four outcomes is possible:

  1. A long period occupying Green due to either unhealthy expression, a lack of 2nd Tier Living Conditions being present, or a lack of 2nd Tier development by the spiritual leadership. This is a good thing when there is movement toward a healthy expression of Green.
  2. A transition to 2nd Tier occurs over time – this requires a healthy Green foundation to be successful.
  3. A regression to Orange due to unhealthy Green or a change to Orange-centered leadership.
  4. The organization or spiritual community ceases to exist.

Major challenges for spiritual leadership within organizations or spiritual communities that are entering or centered in the Green Level of Existence are twofold: (1) to guide them toward a healthy expression of Green and (2) to shepherd them through the transition to 2nd Tier when that is appropriate. And, if it is time for a spiritual community to cease to be, wise leadership will hospice that process.

While arrival at the Green Level may not have occurred for many spiritual communities, it is on their agenda. As Living Conditions (the cultural world around us) grow more complex, humans are called to adapt to that complexity by moving their Level of Existence farther up the spiral. Here are my suggestions for spiritual leadership who are recognizing these dynamics:

  1. Grow your knowledge about cultural evolution. Models such as Spiral Dynamics (LINK), Theory U (LINK), and Edgewalkers (LINK) are important tools in this regard. Get a coach/mentor to work with you – this is not a solo journey.
  2. Seek to expand your capacity to be creative and bold. Evolutionary leadership skills are essential to determining who will thrive in the future. Success will come to those who are willing to make decisions that require deep knowledge and the willingness to risk being judged (LINK). Remember that significant transformation is on our agenda. How will we respond to that challenge? We are not planning for catastrophe, we are setting the stage to thrive in the chaos.
  3. Grow the knowledge of your community leadership team as well – ensure that you are developing evolutionary leadership capacities in your spiritual community.
  4. Speak about evolutionary growth – personal and communal – when you address your community members. Your future leadership team is in the audience every time you speak.
  5. Remember that, for the most part, people with different value systems are not corrupt or lacking understanding – they are operating from the values system of their Level(s) of Existence. When spiritual leaders are aware of this, they can expand their field of compassion to include those with different values than their own (whether higher or lower on the spiral!). The key is to encourage healthy expressions from each of the levels present.
  6. It is critical that spiritual leaders understand and model the healthy aspects of each Level of Existence present in the community. To do this, develop an awareness of the spiral, and do the deep personal work to develop greater capacities for compassion.
  7. Those centered at the Green Level will advocate for processes like governing by consensus and shared leadership. It takes wise leaders to recognize that consensus is only viable when everyone is operating from the Green Level.

Those centered at Blue and Orange value authoritarian leaders and majority rule. When consensus is imposed, they will find it very difficult to respond authentically – they will feel coerced. Shared leadership feels good to those at Green, however, it often results in a lack of clear accountability, which is a significant liability for any organization with Blue/Orange structures and proceduresGreen will tend to insist that everyone else be as “evolved” as they are, and have little patience with those who currently occupy the same places on the spiral that those now at Green occupied a short time ago. The tendency of those centered at Green to insist that no one feel discomfort or use abrasive speech can also be an obstacle to progressive growth.

“We live in a bourgeois cocoon of niceness and anything that breaks out of that is very threatening and disruptive to people. We have to work towards having honest speech with each other. When we have honest speech, we have to speak out about the things that are unjust and unfair. We need a more honest and abrasive speech to bring our talk into connection with our social reality. Any intent to curb that kind of speech is a desire to not have reality pointed out to us. But if we don’t have reality pointed out to us nothing will ever change.”

~ Walter Brueggemann

  1. At 2nd Tier, leadership moves away from both authoritarian leadership and shared leadership. In most organizations operating at 2nd Tier levels, anyone can make any decision at any time! (LINK) Imagine leading such an organization. Can you see now why the “leap” to 2nd Tier is so momentous?

What is required of spiritual leadership in these times is a deeper step into our own authenticity. If something new and different is required of us in these times of accelerated change, that something is already within us, awaiting our permission for it to emerge. The process is not one of becoming different, but of becoming more of who we already are. Finding our inner genius, our inner lover of life, and bringing them forward is our calling. We in New Thought have the tools to do so.

“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

spiral_staircase_photography

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,At

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

(LINK TO AMAZON.CA – Canada)

And at DEVORSS.COM

TRANSITIONING THE GREEN LEVEL OF EXISTENCE – WHERE ORGANIZATIONS GO TO DIE, PART 2

“How does one become a butterfly?” Pooh asked pensively.

“You must want to fly so much that you are willing to give up being a caterpillar,” Piglet replied.

“You mean to die?” asked Pooh.

“Yes and no” he answered. “What looks like you will die, but what’s REALLY you will live on.”

~ A.A. Milne

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

The transformation story of the caterpillar into the butterfly is one that every metaphysician knows and has used as a vehicle for understanding deep change. The caterpillar spins the chrysalis without knowing about the butterfly; the butterfly, emerging from the same chrysalis, knows not of the caterpillar. Each is, essentially, the other, but their existences are very different. Something emerges within the caterpillar which tells it to spin the chrysalis and, once inside, what are known as imaginal cells emerge; the cells which contain the image of the new level of being: the butterfly.

Initially, the remaining vestiges of the caterpillar’s immune system destroy the imaginal cells as they appear. But over time, more and more emerge and they become the directing intelligence of the process of transformation. If all goes well, a butterfly will emerge from the chrysalis – the crawling creature takes flight as something different and yet the same.

In many ways, the transformative transition from caterpillar to butterfly mirrors the transition of people, communities, and organizations from 1st to 2nd Tier on the spiral. If a  spiritual community is to move from the Green Level of Existence or vMEME to the Yellow Level, it must undergo transformation. It must, in essence, shed the 1st Tier structures, values, and ways of being, or DIE to them, so that the new 2nd Tier structures, values, and ways of being can emerge.

ELP Butterfly

“A butterfly is not merely a caterpillar with wings. It has a completely different metabolism, feeding on, and processing, nectar instead of leaves, flying large distances instead of crawling from leaf to leaf. By the same token, Integrative Culture represents not merely a change in itself. It also represents a change in the way change is sought.”

~ Philip Slater, The Chrysalis Effect: The Metamorphosis of Global Culture

When an organization moves into the Postmodern-Green Values System, it begins the process of shedding the Blue and Orange structures, values, and ways of being. Often, this is not a conscious process, in which case it may well go badly. When there is no awareness of the emerging dynamics or of the Living Conditions affecting the organization, the new is likely to be fought, like the caterpillar’s immune system fights the imaginal cells. This can result in getting stuck in an increasingly irrelevant place behind an advancing world, or in the ultimate demise of the organization.

Cartoon - Transformation without Cahnges

At first, what is emerging within us both individually and collectively, will seem alien, and our tendency is to cling to what we have done in the past. The caterpillar has the advantage of having the chrysalis as a sort of isolation chamber, and of turning into a formless goo, which makes acting to delay or divert the process very difficult. Even then, sometimes the organism does not complete the transition; no butterfly emerges.

Human minds are so much more complex than the purely instinctual caterpillar, therefore,  spiritual communities or organizations and its leadership must stay conscious and intact during the transition process as 2nd Tier values and ways of being emerge. This does involve a “death” of the Blue/Orange structures, most of which are the result of a fear-based consciousness of organizational design. 2nd Tier organization is very different; it has very different ways of being. The process must be wisely guided, fears must be addressed, and principles practiced as the transition unfolds. Members of the community/organization will be centered at any number of Levels of Existence as this occurs, so there will be those who see no need for the changes and who want to return to the so-called “tried and true” practices of the past.

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

~ Joseph Campbell

56097673 - leaving my comfort zone safe secure take risk nametag

We do not throw out the past, but neither do we view the past as the source of our future ways of being. The answers of the past are not the answers of our present nor of our future. We must depend on the emergence of new Levels of Existence – healthy Postmodernist-Green and Integral-Yellow – to bring us new answers and more appropriate values systems for the world we are entering.

“Many see looming catastrophe, but few of us have realized that this crisis is driving us toward positive change, a quantum transformation.” 

~ Barbara Marx Hubbard (via Twitter)

Indeed, our times may seem catastrophic, but always within the chaos is the seed of the next level, the new world. The butterfly of New Thought will be as different from the existing ways of being as the actual butterfly is from the caterpillar. As we enter the chrysalis of change, we cannot know what will emerge, but we can shepherd the process with wisdom, compassion, and high expectations.  We nourish nourish and support our own imaginal cells – the people who bring new ideas, new models of ministry & spiritual community. These are the evolutionary leaders of the future who will look and act very differently than the leaders of the past.

“Others will arise who will know more than we do; they won’t be better or worse, they will be different and know more than we do. Evolution is forward.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, Sermon By The Sea, Asilomar, Saturday, August 15, 1959

In Part 3, I will explore a bit more about the Green Level of Existence and a longer piece by Clare Graves, developer of what is now called Spiral Dynamics. In Part 4, I will offer some suggestions on how spiritual leadership can best move forward through these times of great cultural evolutionary change and the organizational transitions that arise from that change.

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

~ Ernest Holmes

 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)