FINDING OUR WAY THROUGH THE CHAOS

The past two months have taken me to the U.S. and Mexico before coming back to France. Dorianne and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, stayed with friends and visited family in Southern California, and attended to some elder care issues for family members. I traveled to Washington DC to visit my daughter and Maryland to visit my aunt and uncle, now in their 90’s. I did a men’s retreat at CSL Simi Valley (LINK) and spoke at the Global Truth Center LA (LINK); later I spend a weekend with the leadership team at CSL Salt Lake City (LINK) and spoke at their Sunday service. While I was doing that, Dorianne was teaching courses in Mindful Leadership and more to students in Health Care Management in San Diego and Houston.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting trip, book-ended by long travel days, but all of it was our choice, which made it a bit more exhilarating and a bit less exhausting. Of course, during this time, climate change continued on its inexorable pace, the impeachment of the US President moved to the Senate for a “trial,” the Coronavirus (LINK) became news, and the usual litany of humanity’s agonies was discussed on regular and social media. What a time to be alive!

It is a great time to be alive, first because we are alive, and that is pretty great; but also, we get to live at a time which is calling forth great strides in human development. While this is often painful, chaotic, confusing, frustrating, and challenging, it is also filled with the opportunity to actualize potential at levels never seen in human history. Nothing short of this kind of growth in consciousness will take us to a sustainable future.

“Most people with an ear to the ground understand to some extent that the collective behavior of our species is unsustainable. Where they differ in opinion is on what should be done to address this problem. Where they unify in opinion is on the assumption that the solution will look like their own personal ideology winning out over all the others. Capitalists believe that capitalism will provide technological solutions to the problems that capitalism has created, and that this will happen more quickly and efficiently if the fetters on capitalism are removed. Socialists believe that socialism will solve the problems that socialism has been powerless to provide this entire time, if only this consistent pattern of socialism’s inability to obtain dominance is magically deviated from somehow. And so on.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone (LINK)

Driving around Los Angeles, I was struck by the magnitude of the challenge to shift away from fossil fuels in this car-dominated megaplex. What combination of technological advances and cultural willingness to change is required to shift to a more sustainable existence here? Where will the resources come from? Who will lead in influencing so many diverse people to make such a shift?

Our stuckness in our own ideologies is an enemy of collective progress. We are called to rise beyond political, religious, and philosophical differences and to contribute to a new collective wisdom. Being humbly unattached to our certainties and willing to explore different and new ideas is now an essential reality. As Alvin Toffler wrote in the last century, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Our answers lie not in our past, nor in what we know presently, but in our ability to merge our current wisdom with new thinking while releasing what no longer works.

“. . . if there is to be any deviation from our species’ self-destructive trajectory, the cause of that deviation will come completely out of left field. No one will expect it, because it won’t come from a direction that we have been conditioned through our experience to look. Our unpatterning will necessarily come from a completely un-patterned direction. A collective movement in an unprecedented direction will necessarily have an unprecedented antecedent.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

 “The problem isn’t whether or not, as I find myself being asked lately ‘we have a future’, but that we do, absolutely, have a future.”

~ William Gibson

Given that we are faced with a future which arises out of our present, there are questions I must face. Am I in a place where I can shift deeply held aspects of my beliefs and behaviors quickly enough to embrace something radically new? If not, is it something I can be working toward – the ability and a greater willingness to shift? How many of my comforts am I willing to do without?

“An epochal shift is taking place in the contemporary psyche, a reconciliation between the two great polarities, a union of opposites: a sacred marriage between the long-dominant but now alienated masculine and the long-suppressed but now ascending feminine.”

~ Richard Tarnas

At the men’s retreat on the healthy masculine (LINKS to past blog posts on this topic), we talked about such issues – coming to terms with our conditioning to abandon our feminine side and how to re-connect in a healthy way. We were confronted with the significant challenge to heal what we often did not realize was wounded, as we are so conditioned in society’s view of what it means to be a man. Women, along with men and everyone on the spectrum of gender have their own work to do in this regard, because only healthy masculine and feminine aspects (not genders – all genders contain masculine and feminine) can allow us the creativity to move forward.

Only through deeper spiritual and psychological exploration and practices will we be able to tap into the reservoir of genius within ourselves. This is what we are called to do by the world as it is today – to deepen our practices and be the drivers of the next leap of evolution as humanity. The alternative is to be driven by conditions produced by a collective consciousness of fear and ignorance.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within. From a structural point of view, the societal blind spot deals with the lack of these cross-sector action groups that intentionally operate from a future that wants to emerge. Instead, we see only special interest groups and three types of fundamentalism, each trying to solve our current mess in a single-minded way.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U (LINK)

Going beyond our settled notions of what works and what doesn’t is essential. Only by breaking through to new developmental levels and to new ways of seeing at every level will we move forward with a minimum of suffering and loss. Yes, it is that serious; the effects of our past ignorance and greed are rising up as the planet’s immune system seeks to rid itself of the disease called fear-based humanity. We are the disease, not in our highest potential, but in our collective actions up until now.

“So what you can do on a personal level is let go of your attachment to the known. Sell off all stocks you’ve invested in your conditioned mental patterning and begin doing the hard inner work necessary to embrace the unknown and unknowable. Begin surprising yourself, and opening doors to allow life to surprise you. Take chances on new and unpredictable situations instead of taking refuge in the known and the familiar. Give less and less interest and attention to your conditioned, looping mental narratives and more and more to the uncontrollable present moment in which literally anything can be born.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

I do not see my inner work as hard in itself; inner work is a joy. What is hard is peeling back the layers of the onion of my fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases. So I engage in my inner work, my daily practices, not a labor but as exploration in a field of love. My fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases are not held against me. They simply disappear when I replace them with a higher order of thinking and being. Our work together is serious and has huge consequences; it is too important to be left to chance. However, we must approach our individual work lightly, lovingly, with self-compassion and higher expectations. I know of no better way forward.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

I will be at the Centers for Spiritual Living Convention in Denver in February (CSL.org); also, I will be speaking at the Foothills Center for Spiritual Living Evergreen (LINK) on Sunday, February 16th and conducting a special interview with CSL Spiritual Leader, Dr. Kenn Gordon later that day at the Grand Hyatt Denver LINK to info – join us if you can!

Archives Denver Event

HUMANITY’S IMMUNE SYSTEM IS EMERGING

“Transformational evolutionary times make the status quo shake and fracture. Those wedded to the status quo shout the loudest. It can be jarring, but it’s not surprising.”

~ Jim Lockard

 “Everything changes when you start to emit your own frequency rather than absorbing the frequencies around you, when you start imprinting your intent on the universe rather than receiving an imprint from existence.”

~ Barbara Marciniak  

“What looks like the end of the world today is often divine intelligence prodding us to incubate (to cocoon) to change ourselves from the inside out and emerge the butterfly. Don’t fight it.”

~ Nathalie Wynn Pace

 These opening quotes speak to the evolutionary process of emergence, which is, quite simply, the way that everything new comes into being and everything old ceases to be dominant. This is true in the physical realm and in the realm of human and cultural development, which is our main concern here.

We can look within human systems to the methods which aid and abet evolution’s determined path toward the new and more complex. Systems within all of creation assist in this process, whether by creating biological “mutations” which alter the direction of a species or cultural “awakenings” which alter the direction of a society. The massive youth marches for climate policy on March 15th can be seen as a bunch of young people deciding to get a day off from school, or, more correctly I think, as a collective action arising from some inner urge to cleanse the human system of destructive, outdated behavior. As Greta Thunberg, the young Swedish teen who has been the inspirational spark for the movement said: ”This movement had to happen, we didn’t have a choice.”

 

 

These youths, taken collectively, can be seen as a kind of immune system for humanity, attacking sclerotic belief systems and paving the way for the emergence of what is next for humanity in a positive way. They are imaginal cells in consciousness; just as the imaginal cells which transform the caterpillar into the butterfly. And, the belief systems supporting the status quo will try to kill off this new consciousness, because that is what existing systems do – they try to perpetuate themselves despite their growing obsolescence.

“If we look with cynical eyes, we see a truncated vision, bereft of hope. . . It is with sacred eyes that we can see the larger, more realistic, picture. Sacred eyes can penetrate through the opaqueness of materialism and reductionism, can penetrate the opacity of materialism and reductionism, and can sort through the chaos of our current time to see the emerging values of the 21st century.”

~ Robert Keck, Sacred Eyes

 These emerging values are just that – newly emerging values systems which are evolutionary in nature. Evolution is a relentless, unpredictable, emergent process which seeks greater adaptation through increased complexity. It is at work in our DNA, our subconscious mind, and in the collective subconscious of humanity and all other occupants of this universe, organic and inorganic. If humanity is to come to a place where we choose to create a more equitable, sustainable, and survivable experience on earth, it will be because of emergent newness which is both heeded and acted upon.

“Because we are moving into a new mythic age, it is little wonder that a kind of mutation is taking place in the entire earth-human order. A new paradigm of what it is to be human is emerging.”

~ Thomas Berry, The Dream of the Earth

Beautiful Earth with Clouds

The youth who marched on March 15th and who will continue to march represent the natural tendency of a living system to heal itself from destructive environments and/or behaviors. It is a natural and normal emergent property of living in this universe. Our lack of awareness of this most important process may result in our collective doom as a species. Of course, that will not deter the universe, our planet included, from evolving forward, but it would be a tragedy for humanity. This kind of whole systems viewpoint is becoming increasingly important if we are going to have a positive influence on climate change and other issues as our world grows more complex.

When we are confronted with something beyond our ability to comprehend, we turn to the artists and the poets for guidance and awareness.

“The poetry of creation is necessarily incomplete — always unobtainable. It is emerging, dying, defining boundaries, and breaking them, contracting and expanding in controlled chaos, or chaotic control. This is the uncrackable code of evolution.”

~ Nora Bateson

 We are part of a fluid, messy, living system with linear and non-linear properties all subject to the emergence of the new and the obsolescence of the old. Some, particularly in the social sciences, are beginning to see this truth and the immense potentials we carry within us – if we can only learn to come into congruence with the principal of emergence as the prime channel of creativity.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within. From a structural point of view, the societal blind spot deals with the lack of these cross-sector action groups that intentionally operate from a future that wants to emerge. Instead, we see only special interest groups and three types of fundamentalism, each trying to solve our current mess in a single-minded way.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

It can be frightening to see the collective need for a “human immune system” and to realize that our existence can be so fragile, and to further realize that it may come to an end (or at least be very miserable) due to our own fear and ignorance. Yet this is what the modern spiritual warrior must face. The courage of the youths who are stepping forward – in every nation, for every cause – is heartening and should be encouraged. We must hospice what is read to die in our culture and midwife what is being born. This takes both courage and some degree of complex thinking – the ability to see that things are connected in mostly invisible ways. And then to trust in those connections and in the collective intelligence of evolutionary processes and to do nothing to obstruct what wants to unfold. It is, admittedly, a tall order, but we have put ourselves into this position, have we not?

I may sound like a doomsayer, although I am not. I think I am an Apocaloptimist (thanks to Nora Bateson for the term), someone who recognized the possibility of a human apocalypse but is optimistic that we will find an alternative. We cannot close our eyes to either possibility and be truly effective.

I believe that there are deep living systems at work, with our self-awareness at the surface. These deep systems operate by evolution, a fluid system of change through adaptation to greater complexity. These systems are self-healing but are not concerned with the forms at the surface, which are continually renewed and improved, or set aside as they become obsolete or unable to adapt.

Are God and Nature then at strife,
That Nature lends such evil dreams?
So careful of the type she seems,
So careless of the single life.

~Alfred Lord Tennyson

 Nature is, indeed, careless of the single life, no matter how important we humans think we are, we are one among many aspects of huge living systems. Here is an analogy: while you may love every cell of your body, how “careful” are you of each one? Don’t you unconsciously slough them off without caring about them individually? Why? Because it is the way of things at the human level – why would it be any different at the universal level?

As we mature spiritually, we come to terms with these difficult ideas and we learn to trust the wisdom of deep living systems of which we are a part. New life arises and old life expires, new forms arise and old forms dissolve; all along the Universal living systems flow and grow. When we are in tune with our immune systems at every level, we can facilitate the healing of ourselves and our communities. Let us awaken to emergence, recognize it, celebrate it, and come into a deep harmony with it.

“This is exactly the position that modern philosophers take; it is called the theory of emergent evolution, which means that when nature needs something, it demands it of itself, and out of itself makes it.”

~ Ernest Holmes

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

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

SPIRAL AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT WHEN ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – PART 1

‎”Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”

~ Mahatma Gandhi

diversity

The issue of diversity and inclusion has been much on my mind of late. This is both because it is a topic of current focus in New Thought organizations and because it is something that I value greatly. There are a number of program initiatives, training programs, and other approaches to move forward and bring greater diversity and inclusion to New Thought, and, to the larger society as well. And, as with all things, there are a few blind spots involved. One of these blind spots relates to a lack of understanding of cultural evolution, complexity, and values systems and how they affect these initiatives. I will address these ideas in this series of blog posts, recognizing that I bring my own cultural blind spots to the process.

Poster - Diversity Inclusion

I am concerned that some of our good efforts to increase awareness, change cultures and behaviors may actually inhibit some of the very worthy intentions of these initiatives. What if the dynamics of cultural change express differently according to where individuals and groups exist on a spiral of human development? In other words, what if programs and initiatives promoting a culture which truly values and incorporates diversity and inclusion or gender equality actually creates barriers to those things happening? What if terms like “white privilege” and “gender fluidity” are automatically given different meanings at different stages of development? Would it be helpful to know the answers to these questions and to take them into account?

VMEMEs Simplified

Spiral Dynamics™ (LINK) is a model of human potential which I use and teach. Many in New Thought have some awareness of the model through various sources. I would add that very few have studied and used the model extensively, so the awareness of the model is somewhat broad but not particularly deep in our movement. However, a lack of understanding of human development as described by the Spiral Dynamics Model can create a significant blind spot for those interested in progressively changing organizational and community cultures and behaviors.

“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, originator of Spiral Dynamics

I think the lack of depth of knowledge of cultural evolution is unfortunate, because the insights into thinking and values systems which Spiral Dynamics brings are very important, especially as the values systems present in our society continue to evolve and diverge. In other words, it is getting more difficult and less productive to “preach to the choir,” speaking only to those of like mind. This is because the “choir” is becoming more diverse in complexity of thinking and values.

Uniformity of thinking and values is becoming rarer as there is greater diversity of all kinds in our families, groups, organizations, and societies. This is a very good thing in many respects – we want to encourage and promote diversity and inclusion in our spiritual communities and organizations. We want to hear more voices and see more of the rainbow of humanity. At the same time, there are aspects within us which desire harmony and uniformity – to feel comfortable and safe. The tension exists within each of us as we confront a more diverse culture and seek to both embrace and expand that diversity.

“We should NEVER mistake conformity for harmony…uniformity for synthesis… (we should) know that for all men (and women) to be ALIKE is the death of LIFE in man, and yet perceive HARMONY that transcends ALL diversities and in which diversity finds its richness and significance.”

~ Dr. Howard Thurman

While most in our movement are very supportive of greater diversity and inclusion and representation, we are not all looking at these terms through the same lens. Spiral Dynamics shows us some of the various lenses, or Levels of Existence, by which we give meaning to our experience of life. These lenses are values systems which emerge with different stages of complexity of thought, and they exist across all cultures and societies to one degree or another. Failure to understand these differences can lead to our tendency to assume that our values are shared by others or that all people of certain groups have the same values systems. This is not true and can lead to organizational disharmony and dysfunction if ignored. Clare Graves used to caution that “all we can do is help a system become what is next for it to become.”

When organizational leadership tries to change their organizations’ cultures by altering the belief systems of their people, it is critical that they understand how cultures evolve and values systems cause people to respond to such efforts. The best of intentions cannot prevent widespread dysfunction when change is initiated with insufficient understanding of cultural dynamics, values systems, and cultural evolution. Over the next few posts, I will explore this topic as clearly and in the most loving and compassionate way that I can.

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

~ Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

Each Level of Existence on the spiral has its own way of enforcing its beliefs and values. In other words, there is a form of political correctness for every level. Blue values conformity and has lots of rules to insure it. Violate the rules and there are punishments of various sorts. Shunning is also common at Blue.

Orange values individualism, freedom from restraint, rationality, status, and entrepreneurialism. Orange political correctness is an unrestrained field of winners and losers; the belief that things will sort themselves out properly if no “authority” intervenes.

At Green (LINK), egalitarianism, cultural identity, and feelings are valued. Conformity is also valued, but not of appearance and social mores as at Blue, but conformity of beliefs based on the value system. Green values include the desire for every voice to be heard, and for every voice to be valued. Green values also include a dislike of hierarchy and dissonance within groups. Paradoxically, those centered at Green can also be blind to the fact that others do not automatically share their values, nor do they necessarily want to share them.

In the next post, we will explore how this mix of values can show up a both healthy and unhealthy expressions which affect how messages of equality and connection are heard across the spiral.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

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

 

And Spiral Dynamics is discussed more thoroughly in my book for Spiritual Leadership:

WHEN SPIRITUAL BYPASS BECOMES SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE, PART 1

“Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, Spiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag

“There are people who have an amazing knowledge of themselves…. But even those people wouldn’t be capable of knowing what is going on in their unconscious.”

~ C.G. Jung

I offer two maxims to guide the reader through this series of posts, which will cover some difficult and uncomfortable terrain.

  1. We are more driven by unconscious patterns and impulses than we realize.
  2. Spiritual Bypassing is common in New Thought spiritual communities.

The first maxim is one which can be seen as limiting some of what we are often taught in New Thought – that we can bring everything to conscious awareness and direct (or re-direct) any aspect of our lives using positive thinking. While our ability to change our unconscious mind is real, it is not an absolute; that is, we cannot empty our unconscious of its contents. The unconscious is too vast to bring fully into conscious awareness, and aspects of our inner psyche which affect everything from our perception to our decision-making, will remain beyond our awareness. At best, we can bring up what most needs to be healed and make the needed changes to develop a consciousness which is more of a representation of our best selves.

This brings up the idea of free will, and the degree to which we are completely free to perceive and decide, with no unconscious conditioning or biases affecting our seeming freedom to choose (LINK to Scientific American Article). As the most recent research shows (LINK), our unconscious conditioning has a greater effect on us than we realize – and must be considered as we do our spiritual and psychological practices. We must look deeper and more closely at ourselves or we miss the evidence of our unconscious conditioning and biases.

“Consciousness, no matter how extensive it may be, must always remain the smaller circle within the greater circle of the unconscious, an island surrounded by the sea; and, like the sea itself, the unconscious yields an endless and self-replenishing abundance of living creatures, a wealth beyond our fathoming. ”

~ Carl Jung, Psychology of the Transference

Ernest Holmes emphasizes the importance of using our conscious mind to program our unconscious, because the objective (conscious) reflects the subjective (unconscious) mind.

“The objective form to which we give our attention is created from the very attention which we give it. The objective is but the reflection of the subject state of thought. Life is a blackboard upon which we consciously or unconsciously write those messages which govern us. We hold the chalk and the eraser in our hand but are ignorant of this fact.”

~ Ernest Holmes

The first maxim is important in helping us to both understand the essence of the second maxim and to create a practice of compassion around our approach to it. Almost all spiritual bypassing is unconsciously driven; bringing this to the awareness of someone engaging in bypassing must be done compassionately to have the best chance of meeting a willingness to change within that person or persons. As we begin to address the second maxim, I encourage the reader to hold this in mind.

Regarding the second maxim, I am guided here, at least in part, by two articles which awakened something within me – some of which I was aware, and some of which I was unaware. In other words, more of my blind spots (LINK) became apparent. I think they are worth addressing here, both for my own benefit and for the benefit of those who read this, so an increased level of awareness may result. They are (both titles are hotlinks):

Spiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag by Robert Augustus Masters, PhD (he also authored a book with the same title)

and

When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting, by Camille Williams – this article will be the focus of Part 2 of this series.

“Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many ways, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow elements, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

With this definition of spiritual bypassing in hand, we can begin to explore how it manifests within a New Thought setting. It is helpful here to have some knowledge of Spiral Dynamics, especially the Green Level of Existence (LINK). Although bypassing can occur at any stage on the spiral, Green, because of its feelings-based nature, is particularly prone to several of the manifestations noted in Masters’ quote above, especially “overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries.”

So, spiritual bypassing is the opposite of authenticity. It is the often-unconscious desire to have everything appear to be what one desires at the expense of dealing with inner and outer realities. It can be used to stifle conflict or differing viewpoints (as in calling a group to prayer-treatment at the first sign of conflict); to deny realities such as financial lack or a decline in the capabilities of aging leaders; to maintain unconscious patterns of discrimination; or to create a false sense of security so that one or a group does not have to face a difficult reality or decision.

At its core, however, spiritual bypassing is a refusal to do the deep work necessary for true spirituality to express in a person or community. We are all, to one degree or another, terrified of the power within us. Bringing it forth in a more complete and authentic way, which most of us claim to desire, would also cause chaos in the order of our present lives. Nothing would be safe. Those in spiritual leadership are not free of this fear, nor are they necessarily more spiritually authentic than anyone else (LINK). In fact, much of what goes on in spiritual community is going through the motions of a surface piety to some theological principles while being careful not to upset the comfort zones of ourselves and others.

“True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as a something to dabble in here and there. Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for what must be done. Most of the time when we’re immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat, doing whatever we can to distance ourselves from the flames.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

To be sure, everyone in a spiritual community is unlikely to want to live at that level. There are lots of reasons for this and finding even a handful of people who are willing to go deep into themselves and stir up shadow selves is a challenge. A spiritual community which can accommodate that smaller group within its larger community will have a source of richness missing in most communities. To do this requires attuned leadership who have credibility with those on a deeper and more authentic spiritual pathway. Such leaders are also rare.

“Is not the shadow of a group more than the sum of individual shadows, and might it not create a whole new dimension of unconsciousness?”

~ James Hollis, Author & Jungian Analyst

What is important to gain from this post is that spiritual bypass is common, it is mostly unconscious, and it is a big turn-off to those who seek authenticity in their spiritual leaders and spiritual community. It is also an obstacle to achieving significant mission-centric expression. Here is where we get to utilize our free will to direct ourselves in a more authentic direction. Leaders can empower their members to speak up when they suspect spiritual bypass, and train themselves and others how to compassionately respond when others are not being authentic. This approach will go a long way toward aligning a spiritual community to create #TheBelovedCommunity.

“To truly outgrow spiritual bypassing—which in part means releasing spirituality (and everything else!) from the obligation to make us feel better or more secure or more whole—we must not only see it for what it is and cease engaging in it but also view it with genuine compassion, however fiery that might be or need to be. The spiritual bypasser in us needs not censure nor shaming but rather to be consciously and caringly included in our awareness without being allowed to run the show. Becoming intimate with our own capacity for spiritual bypassing allows us to keep it in healthy perspective.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

“The more ‘enlightened’ we believe ourselves to be, the vaster we discover that which remains unconscious.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

In Part 2 of this series, we will look at the more destructive elements of spiritual bypassing, the things which can tear a spiritual community apart.

As always, your comments are welcomed below. Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. If you like, you can sign up to follow the blog above and receive an email whenever a new post is published.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I used several quotes by Robert Augustus Masters in this post. At the time, I was generally unfamiliar with his work, other than an article on spiritual bypassing. I have since learned that he has admitted to abuse of students and members of a group which he led. I will not be referring to him or to his work again. – Jim Lockard October 2018

 

 

MY BLIND SPOTS, PART 3

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

~ Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince

White Privilege -blind-spots

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

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

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

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

~ Ernest Holmes, Unpublished Papers

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

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

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

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

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

~ Richard Rohr

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

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

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

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

~ Jim Lockard

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

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

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

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

Beautiful Woman Moon

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

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

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

WHAT’S WRONG WITH THEM? WHY DON’T THEY CHANGE THEIR MINDS?

“When prehistoric fossils were first discovered in rocks, 18th century scientists insisted that they were natural formations, accidental conformations of rock, rather than undertake a massive revision of all their ideas about nature and the age of the earth.”

~ Colin Wilson

Sometimes it seems as if 75% of social media posts are attempts to change someone’s mind about something. And, have you noticed, it rarely, if ever, works. The same is true of many of our conversations and most, if not all the Sunday lessons presented by New Thought Spiritual Leaders.

Despite all the effort, we see very few changed minds. Oh, some are changed over time – because that person decides to change, but no one’s mind is changed without their cooperation.

“Change is hard because people don’t only think on the surface level. Deep down people have mental maps of reality — embedded sets of assumptions, narratives and terms that organize thinking. . .. Can (they) change their underlying mentality to adapt to these realities? Intellectual history says no. People almost never change their underlying narratives or unconscious frameworks.”

~ David Brooks, NYTimes 1/29/2013

As human beings, we are built to believe that what we already believe is true and to seek out data that agrees with what we already believe. We have built-in brain structures that make us tend to view the world as if it conforms to what we already believe. These structures create blind spots to information that does not conform with what we already believe; and even if forced to view the contradictory information, we can easily rationalize a way around it and keep our same beliefs. We have known this about ourselves for a long time.

fact-and-belief

THE SIX MISTAKES WE MAKE ~ CICERO

1. Believing you can profit from hurting another.
2. Worrying about things you can’t change.
3. To insist that something is impossible just because you can’t do it.
4. Holding fast to trivial pride, preference, and prejudice.
5. People stop learning.
6. Trying to compel others to believe and live as you do.

That #6, is a big one. In New Thought teachings, we learn to change our own mind – not to change the mind of others. Why? Because we have no such power over others. True, we may be able to influence others, but a changed mind must come from within that person. We may be able to make someone behave in a certain way through coercion or force, but that is very unlikely to change their mind. A famous story about the legendary Religious Science minister Raymond Charles Barker (LINK) tells of the time that he had books entitled “How to Change Other People” put in the church bookstore. Many people eagerly purchased them, only to find when opening them that they were blank inside. The next Sunday he spoke about the need to change yourself.

But that is only half of the story.

Changing minds can only happen in a conversation, never in a lecture. Each person must be willing to open their mind to a new possibility – to “go out onto the skinny branches,” as Dr. Arleen Bump often says. There must be an inner dialogue in response to any lecture in which the person moved toward a new belief.

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

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We both enter the conversation with blind spots which you can imagine as being created by the fear that any belief in opposition is a threat to us. Unless we go deeper than our normal surface level (what Scharmer calls Downloading), we will not open the mind, heart, or will – the keys to a changed mind. Like medieval knights in a joust, we will have only two possible outcomes – win or lose – and it is unlikely that any minds will be changed. Unfortunately, we also have blind spots to our ability to go deeper than our surface consciousness.

But, only when we go deeper, into the realms of mind, heart, and will, can we direct our change processes with intention and purpose. In his Theory U Model (LINK), Scharmer shows how this process can be self-directed in individuals and groups.

“Time and again we try to cope with situations using collective instruments that are out of tune. Rather than stopping to tune them, we increase the pace, hire consultants who want to increase productivity by further reducing the time devoted to tuning and practicing, hire new conductors who promise to conduct even faster, and so forth. But the obvious thing to do—to stop and tune the instruments collectively—doesn’t come easily because it requires a shift of the mind to a deeper level of operating.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U

We can influence others, but how? Often, we insult them and their beliefs, or do things to undermine their success. This is because we are as attached to our own beliefs as they are to theirs and we have our own blind spots! Our belief system tells us that different beliefs can be dangerous to us. Our motivation to convert others to our way of thinking is usually based on an unconscious need to feel safe. When we react out of fear with anger, we will likely influence others to keep their own beliefs! We see the results of such largely unconscious thinking in many social media posts. Until we learn to break with the past and focus on what is wanting to emerge, we will stay in conflict.

“Isn’t there a way to break the patterns of the past and tune into our highest future possibility—and to begin to operate from that place? . . . 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

Whether you are a leader or not, this awareness is important. We all have blind spots, we all have current beliefs that we will unconsciously defend (rightly or wrongly), and we all will attempt to get others to join us in our blind spots and beliefs. At the same time, others will be trying to get you to join them in their blind spots and beliefs. And so, we go in circles. It can get exhausting and lead to depression and even rage.

theory-u

 

We serve ourselves well when we include these qualities and skills in our spiritual practices and in our organizational practices. If we are to strengthen our ability to stand in Truth, even when uncomfortable, we must be able to release what no longer serves us. We can only let go by healing our blind spots – by being open to amazement. This requires us to bring the process to conscious awareness more often (“What am I missing right now? Where am I locked into a belief? Is it true?”).

mirror-you-are-perfect-as-you-are2

You may come to see that the intransigence of others is a reflection of your own intransigence. That your inner unconscious fears that what you believe is the only right way to believe has created a big blind spot to the validity of different points of view. Which is not to say that you are wrong in your belief, only that your fear and the resulting blind spots make you incapable of seeing other possibilities and empathizing the those who believe differently.

“This is the moment when what we need most is enough people with the skill, heart, and wisdom to help us pull ourselves back from the edge of breakdown and onto a different path.”

~ C. Otto Scharmer

Our New Thought principles (LINK) always lead in the same direction – toward self-awareness and self-development. We do our work in consciousness on ourselves and we transform our belief system toward something greater within the realm of Infinite Possibility. When we are transformed, our experience of life is changed and our influence of others is also changed. Maybe they didn’t need to change at all. Maybe our holding them as “wrong” was a case of spiritual arrogance on our part. Maybe our own transformation created a space for them to expand their awareness and development.

I do my spiritual work.

I cease declaring anyone my enemy.

I embrace my connection to the Infinite.

I am transformed and my experience shifts accordingly.

 

“Change is inevitable. Progression is a choice.”

~ Sonya Teclin

As always, your comments are appreciated. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. Thank you!

 

Text Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

GET A COPY FOR YOUR SPIRITUAL LEADER!

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

By Jim Lockard

Available in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

ON DIALOG, LISTENING, AND CREATING COMMUNION

The election just past has (temporally, at least), raised clouds of dust in many circles, especially for those who define themselves as progressives (myself included). Many who thought we were on a more-or-less uninterrupted trajectory toward greater progress for humanity (and yes, I can hear the gods laughing), were jolted toward a different explanation of reality.

Almost immediately, progressives of all stripes began to wonder what they had missed – what were those who voted for the Republican candidate thinking and feeling? What were their experiences? Why did they feel left behind (if, in fact, they did)?

And we began to wonder what we did wrong, how we contributed, knowingly or not to this result.

The Spiral Dynamics™ Model (LINK) offers some valuable insight, but it is only partial. It says that the Democratic candidate spoke largely to the Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green levels on the spiral, while the Republican candidate targeted those from Tribal-Purple, Egotist-Red, Traditionalist-Blue, and into Modernist-Orange. When we remember that we carry forward aspects of the levels on the spiral that we have left behind (transcend and include), we see that those at Blue and Orange may have strong strains of Purple and Red values operating in their personal values systems. The messages of nationalism and protection of traditional values were strong incentives for many.

And afterward, the tendency for self-examination is strong at the levels above Traditionalist-Blue, and is relatively rare at that level and below. Therefore, many progressives are questioning themselves while many conservatives are not. There are, of course, conservatives who are at Orange on the spiral, but fewer at Green; and Green very much values introspection and self-analysis.

The question, of course, is how to go forward. How do we move from a fractured nation to one that is more connected, if still very pluralistic in its values systems? Two articles from Brain Pickings (LINK) and (LINK) sparked my thinking in this direction. They speak to the possibility of the development of dialog and the need for the development of true listening. Here are some quotes from the articles, which I suggest that you read in full and follow links on the Brain Pickings blog that may interest you.

“Different groups … are not actually able to listen to each other. Thus, the very attempt to improve communication leads frequently to yet more confusion, and the consequent sense of frustration inclines people ever further toward aggression and violence, rather than toward mutual understanding and trust.”

“Nevertheless, this meaning does not cover all that is signified by communication. For example, consider a dialogue. In . . . dialogue, when one person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the meanings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person understood. On considering this difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to his own views and to those of the other person. And so it can go back and forth, with the continual emergence of a new content that is common to both participants. Thus, in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.

“But of course, such communication can lead to the creation of something new only if people are able freely to listen to each other, without prejudice, and without trying to influence each other. Each has to be interested primarily in truth and coherence, so that he is ready to drop his old ideas and intentions, and be ready to go on to something different, when this is called for.”

~ David Bohm

Here David Bohm, the great theoretical physicist, who also engaged in some amazing dialogues with others (LINK to a Treasure Trove of Videos), speaks to the qualifications necessary for true dialog, which requires a willingness to listen and even change your mind based on what transpires in the dialog. So, a true dialog requires openness. Bohm pointed out in the 1970’s that our media was essentially training us away from dialog to another form, which he called discussion, in which no one gives an inch and we learn to ignore the facts and positions that do not match our current world view.

In the other blog, Krista Tippett, a journalist and author of the On Being Blog (LINK), speaks of the importance of questions, and the quality of generous listening:

“If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: a question is a powerful thing, a mighty use of words. Questions elicit answers in their likeness. Answers mirror the questions they rise, or fall, to meet. So, while a simple question can be precisely what’s needed to drive to the heart of the matter, it’s hard to meet a simplistic question with anything but a simplistic answer. It’s hard to transcend a combative question. But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking better questions.”

~ Krista Tippett

 

“We’ve all been trained and raised as advocates, so we go in with a position. There’s a place for that. But we need to be able to set that aside, because we need places where that’s not all we’re doing… So, one thing about listening — generous listening — one really simple characteristic of it is that the generous listener is ready to be surprised. You go into [a conversation] with an assumption that you don’t know everything or understand everything, and you’re truly curious — which means you’re open to having whatever assumptions you do bring unsettled, and you’re going to be graceful about that and kind of curious about that when that happens.”

~ Krista Tippett

And finally, David Bohm speaks of the capacity for dialog to share meaning, and to convey the essence of humanity, love:

“Love will go away if we can’t communicate and share meaning… However, if we can really communicate, then we will have fellowship, participation, friendship, and love, growing and growing. That would be the way…

“And perhaps in dialogue, when we have this very high energy of coherence, it might bring us beyond just being a group that could solve social problems. Possibly it could make a new change in the individual and a change in the relation to the cosmic. Such an energy has been called ‘communion.’ It is a kind of participation. The early Christians had a Greek word, koinonia, the root of which means ‘to participate’ — the idea of partaking of the whole and taking part in it; not merely the whole group, but the whole.”

~ David Bohm

We in New Thought are progressive by nature. This does not mean that we do not have those who are conservative politically. What it means is that our teachings are uniquely positioned among spiritual teachings to embrace an evolving world. In a world where change is the only constant, there is room for both conservative and progressive values – we conserve what is treasured as we progress toward what is emerging. When limited thinking dominates, we fall into an either/or position that is neither sustainable nor healthy.

When we fail to listen generously and to engage in dialog with an open mind and heart, we move into either/or consciousness and make anything coming from the “other side” wrong. We close off and batten-down with our tribe of belief and forward movement is inhibited or lost.

Now this does not mean that every position by every person on either side of an issue is correct or true. We all have blind spots, and we are all susceptible to falling into the trap of repeating something simply because it seems to agree with our particular worldview. But we all need to be able to engage in dialog in the way that David Bohm defined it, and to engage in generous listening, as described by Krista Tippett. We need to presence ourselves in love and possibility.

We can begin in our own homes and in our own spiritual communities.

Beautiful Life Force