HEALING THE MASCULINE CONSCIOUSNESS, PART 3

“As an adult, you must rediscover the moving power of your life. Tension, a lack of honesty, and a sense of unreality come from following the wrong force in your life.”

~ Joseph Campbell

In Part 1 of this series (LINK), I addressed the problem of wounded male consciousness in our culture and in Part 2 (LINK), I shared a bit about my own journey. Let’s continue that conversation here, focusing on the role of shadow in this pervasive issue of masculine wounding.

Tangled up in the inner relationships each of us has with our inner masculine (Animus) and feminine (Anima) energies, is the shadow-self, the aspects of ourselves which we have denied and repressed because we perceived that they were not acceptable. All people have these inner aspects, and in our culture, it is usual for boys to be taught to deny their Anima and for girls to be taught to deny their Animus. There are, of course, exceptions to this, but they are few; and we are learning to see gender more as a continuum than as two separate poles of man and woman.

Masculinity 9

 

This series is about healing masculine consciousness, and the most prevalent aspect of that consciousness which needs to be healed is among men. This is both because men have most of the power in our culture and because this power is based upon a long history, or patriarchy which has oppressed significant portions of the population and continues to do so. At the personal level, it is about men learning to express their feelings honestly and bringing compassion forward as both a desirable and achievable way of being and expressing for men and to men. It is often a misunderstanding of power, love, fear, and compassion which is taught from one generation to the next which not only perpetuates the pain but prevents its healing.

“knowing your power is what creates humility. not knowing your power is what creates insecurity.”

~ nayyirah waheed

When we are insecure about our power, we become dysfunctional. This can take many forms, from withdrawal to violent intimidation to self-harm. Since we tend to drive self-love and compassion out of our boys, denying them the full range of emotional expression, the effects of this shadow run deeply and powerfully in our society. Men become dangerous and/or ineffectual, aggressive and/or depressive, unavailable emotionally, and unable to express humility or vulnerability. This takes a great toll on men, and also on women and everyone who does not reside on far male end of the gender continuum. It is all repressed energies or shadow, and it needs to be revealed and healed.

“Work on your shadow stuff or your shadow stuff will work on you.”

~ Steven Forrest

 

“The persona aims at perfection. The shadow reminds us we are human.”

~ Daryl Sharp

Masculine 7

But this can be dangerous work. Shadow and its attendant processes, projection and denial, are all unconscious, and strongly resist being brought to awareness. Much of the western male persona, the rugged individual, strong and stoic, unfeeling except in victory, withdrawn, competitive, status-seeking, and warrior-like is actually a series of defense mechanisms to keep the shadow self hidden. Since most of our shadow is developed in childhood and the local and general communities are complicit in seeing this repression as valuable, we are not even aware that we have a shadow. Even less do we know its contents. Until we begin to recognize our shadow selves, we cannot begin the process of healing, a process which is always difficult and requires support from others in most cases.

“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

Masculinity 6

Photo Credit: Evan Benz

The masculine energy within us is romantic – it is the initiator energy, the ascendant yearning for fulfillment and experience. The feminine energy is grounded and creative – it is a receptive energy, the horizontal yearning for home and connection. We are all born with these full capacities, and our parents and society go to work to see that we only express one or the other, when human fulfillment requires a balance of both. Very few people in our culture are raised to express a balance of these energies. An absence of seeing the value in such a balance leads to dysfunction in everything from our sexuality (regardless of sexual orientation, a lack of balance will result in sexual dysfunction of one kind or another) to family life to work life to our spirituality. The expression in all of these areas can be atrophied, reckless, or deadly. Unless the shadow issues are revealed, healed, and integrated into a healthy adult consciousness, we are walking wounded – incompletely realized versions of our true selves.

“Man, coming from Unity, is both male and female, and has, within himself, both attributes of reality. In some the male predominates; in others the female. We have two distinct types in man and woman; but they are types of one fundamental principle. There is also an intermediate sex; that is, one in which the two attributes seem to be almost equally balanced. The greatest men and women of the ages have belonged to this type, for it is a more complete balance between the two which are really one.”

~ Ernest Holmes,

The Science of Mind, 1926 Edition (LINK from CSL Asheville)

Aside from it being interesting that the quote above was not included in later editions of the Science of Mind text, the insight expressed by Ernest Holmes here is striking, given the time when it was written. At that point, Jungian psychology was emerging and exploring Anima and Animus, but very few outside the Jungian community in Europe were talking about the value of such a balance of masculine and feminine.

A dear friend of mine who is a gay man told me that when he was a boy and his father took him to the toy store, he wanted to go look at the baby dolls, and his dad wanted him to look at the toys for boys. But his dad let him look at the baby dolls and buy them and essentially made it okay for my friend to be himself in that regard. How rare of a story is this? I was and am heterosexual in my orientation, and my dad and mom (mostly dad – see Part 2 LINK) made sure that I made the “correct” masculine choices. I am actually not sure if that would have been my preference at the time again, the conditioning came so early and was so thorough. And it was supported by the larger community and society – it still is, although change is happening.

mASCULINE 10

What would happen if a parent took their child to a toy store where toys were mixed and not shelved by gender expectations and let the children make their own choices? The answer, whatever it might be individually, would be that children would be freer to express according to their true natures. What we have had up until now is a cultural system designed to rigidly enforce cultural norms of gender identity, one which is deeply ingrained into our unconscious. And, children have no choice but to try and repress aspects of themselves which do not fit in, building shadow-selves which continue to unconsciously act upon them in destructive ways unless they are revealed and healed.

This has a lot to do with why “coming out” as one’s true self is so difficult in our culture – we have to battle our own internal shadows as well as the larger shadows of the culture around us. When I am being more authentic than you are being, the nature of your shadow is to try to repress me if you have the power, so that you will be able to remain comfortable in your own lack of authenticity. It is an automatic response, which we see in ourselves, in parents, coaches, bosses, politicians, etc. It is in everyone as long as that particular aspect is repressed. And, we will keep getting the same results as long as they are rewarded.

Men in our culture carry the burden of needing to be strong and unemotional in the face of all this repression – in fact, they often become its enforcers (as to women in a different way). Here are some of the effects:

In 2018 the American Psychological Association published – the APA Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men.

The first report of its kind, the collected research found that quote “traditional masculinity—marked by stoicism, competitiveness, dominance and aggression—is, on the whole, harmful”

Written over 13 years and based on 40 years of compiled research – The report lays out some striking mental and physical health disparities between men and women.

Men are 3.5 times more likely to commit suicide.

And men die from heart disease and cancer — at rates 50% and 80% higher, than women.

(LINK)

Add to this list the huge toll of crimes and violence toward women and children by men, and you have a striking pattern of dysfunction across much of Western society. There is simply no getting around it – wounded people wound themselves and other people. Look at the wounded males in top positions in government, business, education, etc. What we so often see are men who are overcompensating for their shadow selves and sense of inadequacy by seeking power, fortune, and fame – and there is never enough to fill the gaping hole within left by the repression of essential elements of who they really are.

We must heal ourselves before we can properly redesign how we raise our children. This must be a collective effort, beginning with awareness (the #MeToo Movement is an example), however, when there is anger rather than compassion in the awareness process, it can actually have a negative effect on the healing process. Many men today, in response to the groundswell of authentic pain from women are retreating and closing off rather than confronting their own pain and dysfunction. Like an alcoholic is addicted to booze, most men are addicted to the prevailing cultural view of manhood, and their shadow responds to the threat of being revealed by either lashing out or withdrawing. These deeply rooted cultural biases will not simply be shed by telling someone that he (or she) is wrong. A wounded person, when feeling cornered, will not simply acquiesce.

“By and large, the shadow is a hodge-podge of repressed desires and uncivilized impulses. It is possible to become conscious of these, but in the meantime, they are projected onto others. Just as a man may mistake a real woman for the soulmate he yearns for, so he will see his devils, his shadow, in other men. This is responsible for much acrimony in personal relationships. On a collective level it gives rise to political parties, war and the practice of scapegoating.”

~ Daryl Sharp, Jungian analyst, The Survival Papers, p. 82

Masculine 8

Our great challenge is to facilitate the healing of the wounded masculine consciousness individually and collectively. This will require the efforts of everyone across the gender spectrum. We are all in need of healing and we all contribute to the collective consciousness of our culture. The anger of those repressed by the patriarchal cultures of western civilization, while justified, will not alone facilitate healing. It must be transmuted into compassion – meaning that it is firmly expressed and dedicated to find a way to reach those in need of healing.

Healing the shadow means to reintegrate the repressed aspects of self into a healthy psyche which has access to the positive aspects of what was repressed. When a man represses his feminine side, he represses his ability to receive, to be creative, to be compassionate, to nurture himself and others. When integrated, the feminine aspect lets a man relax into finding fulfillment in connection and love as opposed to competition and the accumulation of wealth and status. Jung called this process of integration individuation.

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

In Part 4 of this series, I will address how we can facilitate this healing in our spiritual communities. As always, your comments are appreciated in the comments section below. Please share this blog with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

My book – available at Amazon in North America and Europe

– coming soon in Spanish!

THE IMPORTANCE OF CONTINUED SPIRITUAL AND PERSONAL GROWTH – And an Announcement

“I am convinced that the study of the soul is the science of the future.”

~ C.G. Jung

Full disclosure: This is, in part, a marketing piece. At the end of this post, is information about becoming a private student with me for a course of study which begins in September 2019 and concludes in June 2020. I conducted such a program this past year, and it was very valuable for those students and for me, so I am offering it again. Bu more about that in a bit.

“We are on the hero’s journey when we submit to the deep processes of life and allow them to affect us and bore their necessities into us. We are the hero when we take on the challenges and go through our initiations and transformations, enduring loss and gain, feeling happy and sad, making progress and falling back. The hero is engaged in life The hero is not the one who displays force and muscle without deep insight or the courage to be. The hero may not look heroic from the outside but may go through powerful developments in a quiet way. The difference is that the real hero engages life and reflects on it. She becomes more and more what he or she is destined to be.” 

~ Thomas Moore

The importance of continued study and practice on the spiritual developmental pathway cannot be overemphasized. When we stop studying and our practices become repetitive and stagnant, our growth does not just cease, it withers. Gaining a practitioner license, becoming a lay leader, even obtaining a ministerial license and becoming ordained is not the end of the journey. Each of these is the beginning of a new chapter in your journey. This is true whether or not one aspires to future certifications, recognitions, or awards. We either grow through our efforts or we wither.

Teach Coach Mentor Inspire

 

And the farther one is along the pathway of spiritual growth, the more esoteric and practical knowledge they have obtained, the more powerful their practices, the stronger is the need to do really deep and disturbing work into the depths of the self. And the truth is that today in New Thought, with very few exceptions, you can reach the pinnacles of certification and recognition, even winning awards, without ever having done the deep inner work of healing. While the organizations have a lot of excellent education, it is difficult to create curriculum for this depth of work. Additionally, there are, quite frankly, relatively few spiritual teachers qualified to work with students at this depth – not having done their own work in this area.

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

~ Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

What we have repressed since our arrival in this incarnation is called our Shadow. Working with the Shadow is difficult and disturbing and requires a long-term commitment to the process. When we do not do this work, or do it partially, we carry or repressed selves into every decision, every relationship, every aspect of our lives. The results are self-sabotage, drama, ennui, and mediocrity.

“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

I have quoted four prominent teachers in this post, three of whom I do not utilize in my program. However, the message is known far and wide. If we are to realize our spiritual potential, we must do the deep work of personal transformation, and the way to that goal goes through your Shadow.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT:

The program is called METAPHYSICAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR TODAY, and it is a teaching, coaching, and mentoring process. It is for students with some basic metaphysical education, not for beginners. It is a very challenging course of study, not a weekend or a class of a few weeks. It is for those willing to make an investment of time, money, and effort into deep processing and growth. It is also fun, inspiring, and creates a new community. In last year’s group there were ministers, practitioners, and lay members of New Thought communities, and students without affiliation to any New Thought organization. Students from North America and Europe. Students from their 40’s to their 70’s. The maximum number of students I will accept is 12.

 

The course involves a 2-hour group session on Zoom communications software just about every Saturday plus a 1-hour one-to-one session with me for each student. There is also a 5-day retreat in Europe at or near the end of the program.

METAPHYSICAL PSYCHOLOGY FOR TODAY –

Here is one testimonial:

“I am happy to have had Dr. Jim Lockard as a teacher and mentor and just love the wealth of information that he continues to share. As I have said many times throughout the 9 months, I feel as though this gave me more depth and breadth in my awareness of metaphysics, who I am how the world works and I know I am better because of this journey and having you as a teacher and mentor. Thank you!”

~ Rev. Staci Hylton, The Center, Las Vegas, NV, USA

And another:

I highly recommend this class to those who have already “worked” their spiritual path diligently—not a beginner’s class. This course is about deepening one’s spiritual awareness, beyond traditional New Thought boundaries, and may well be very challenging to some New Thought sensibilities. The course materials and time commitment are rigorous and, for me, provided a profound experience in developing new personal spiritual insights.

~ Dr. Steven Brabant, RScP, Emeritus

If you are interested, email me at JimLockardTravels@yahoo.com and I will send you more information. I am announcing this to my blog followers first, but please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP IN TIMES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE – PART 1

“Contradictions, whether personal or social, that could once remain hidden are coming unstoppably to light. It is getting harder to uphold a divided self….The trend toward transparency that is happening on the systems level is also happening in our personal relationships and within ourselves. Invisible inconsistencies, hiding, pretense, and self-deception show themselves as the light of attention turns inward….The exposure and clearing of hidden contradictions brings us to a higher degree of integrity, and frees up prodigious amounts of energy that had been consumed in the maintenance of illusions. What will our society be capable of, when we are no longer wallowing in pretense?”

~ Charles Eisenstein

A blog post by Harv Bishop (LINK) this week brought up a very significant question about leadership and shadow in New Thought organizations and spiritual communities. The Eisenstein quote above came to mind as I thought about the dynamics of the question – it is ultimately one of integrity.

The topic of the post is about how some practitioners (trained spiritual prayer partners) in Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL) spiritual communities have become alienated due to rigid requirements about financial support to their spiritual community and unfeeling/unskilled leaders essentially failing to see their humanity.

I believe that the issue goes much deeper and has a number of “tentacles” – some organizational and some psychological – which have led to this moment when this issue is being addressed out loud (at least in the blogosphere and on some social media). This is more complex than it might seem at first glance, both for leadership and for followership. Let’s examine a couple here.

One organizational issue is the structure of the Practitioner system in Centers for Spiritual Living. Bishop writes, “These highly trained professionals pray for and help people change their thinking. They can be thought of as the special forces of the New Thought movement. Practitioners serve as prayer volunteers within churches and do not receive a salary from their sponsoring churches. They can charge clients for their services if they start a private spiritual counseling practice. Becoming a practitioner is also a first step to ministerial studies.” To become a licensed practitioner takes about 4 years of study with testing along the way. Once licensed, there are requirements for ongoing education, etc. Practitioners serve “at the pleasure” of the spiritual leader of a spiritual community.

Holmes - Young

Dr. Ernest Holmes

The original idea of Ernest Holmes in the 1920’s was to teach and license practitioners who would go into private practice, generally following the successful model of Christian Science at the time (Holmes studied Christian Science briefly). This was before the idea of churches or spiritual communities had been introduced into Religious Science (Now CSL). The 6-week course at the Institute in Los Angeles resulted in a license to be a Practitioner of Religious Science and do Spiritual Mind Treatment for clients.

Well, so far so good. However, it was soon learned that some of the folks who became licensed were doing all kinds of things under their license which were not at all related to being a Practitioner of Religious Science. No need to go into detail, but the Institute and Dr. Holmes came to see that they could not enforce policies on these independent actors. So, after grappling with a number of alternatives, it was reluctantly decided to start churches with ministers to whom the practitioners would be assigned. The ministers would oversee the practitioners, who were still thought to be professionals who would earn their main living from being a practitioner.

Jump ahead nine decades, and we have thousands of practitioners around the globe, with perhaps a small handful (if any) making a living from their efforts; most practitioners today barely make enough to cover their license renewal fee, if we are to be candid. An increasing number do not charge for their services at all.

The organizational issue is that the practitioner program as it operates today is very different than the Founder’s vision, yet the basic structure and expectations have changed very little since 1930. The only significant change is that the 6 week program has been expanded to at least 4 years. Spiritual leaders feel compelled to perpetuate the idea of the Founder, at least to a degree, and thus find themselves in a very difficult position in terms of setting expectations. So, a major issue involved in Harv’s post is this:

CSL is perpetuating an obsolete model with expectations based on past practices which do not reflect how the modern practitioner functions.

“For us to remain relevant and contemporary we will have to slay some sacred cows.”

~ Edward Viljoen

While organizational and structural issues such as this put leaders and followers at a disadvantage, we are each accountable for our own responses to conditions. If I am approached by my spiritual leader and questioned about my financial giving (assuming there has been an agreement regarding expectations in advance), and I feel shamed because my current conditions include insufficient funds to keep my agreement, then is the spiritual leader the cause of my feelings? Even if the spiritual leader is unskilled at having a compassionate conversation, am I not accountable for my emotional reactions? And if I would respond to such a question with a feeling of shame, does that mean that it never should have been asked? I am wondering about the desirability of having developed a sense of spiritual grit or resilience – is that not something one might expect of a practitioner after all of their study and practice? One quality of good followership is personal accountability, another is emotional intelligence, both are tied to integrity.

This is not to say that the leader(s) have no accountability, of course they do – but it comes down to a very basic issue – am I my own authority? Is it reasonable for others to expect me to meet my obligations or, if I am unable to do so, to reach out and have the necessary conversations with those who are counting on me? If the answer is no, where does that leave us?

“We either make ourselves miserable or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

~ Carlos Castaneda

That first “tentacle” is unique to CSL, as is the practitioner program they utilize (although other organizations may have similar issues structurally). The second tentacle is more general and has to do with the underlying psychological factors which affect us all, particularly in relation to how leaders lead and how followers follow.

“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,

quoted in CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY by Jim Lockard

No organizational system can fully overcome psychological (mental and emotional) issues. This is why employees and especially leaders are often subjected to psychological screening and developmental training over time. We all bring our unresolved childhood issues with us into the workplace, into our spiritual community, and elsewhere. We then project them onto others, unconsciously seeking healing through the process of mirroring and modeling. When we remain unaware of this process and its dynamics, we generally do not heal; we perpetuate the dysfunctions of ourselves and others within the group. We cannot be in integrity with our true selves because we have created barriers to that very connection,.

“Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.”

~ C.G. Jung, Depth Psychology and Self-Knowledge

The difference between the workplace and spiritual community is that we should be able to expect the latter to be a place where compassion and healing are prized and available. But as humans insufficiently aware of our own unresolved issues, we are limited in our capacities to express these positive qualities. When someone’s behavior strays too close to one of my shadow (repressed) issues, I will lash out in some fashion – perhaps by invoking my “authority” as spiritual leader or by relying on the most rigid interpretation of rules and policies as a means of protecting myself from being too vulnerable in that moment. And, it is likely that the practitioner, or staff member, or congregant with whom I am engaged will be doing their version of the same thing. The results of such dynamics often include shame, guilt, frustration, anger, etc. But that is not the end – then the blaming has to start, finding a scapegoat (the individual, the organization, the teaching) and having that repetitive inner dialogue about how I have been harmed through no fault of my own, and so on. This may lead to triangulation, gossip, withholding of presence and support, and the like. Sound familiar?

“The effect of projection is to isolate the subject from his environment, since instead of a real relation to it there is now only an illusory one.”

~ C.G. Jung, CW 9ii

“It is much easier to deny, blame others, project elsewhere, or bury it and just keep on rolling.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

On top of all of this, what it means to be in spiritual leadership has changed since the time of the Founder; indeed, it has changed since this 21st Century began and continues to evolve. Mew Thought spiritual organizations, like most others, have not been sufficiently responsive to these evolutionary processes to substantially uplevel how leaders are trained (much less to have effective and coherent programs to re-train leaders already in the system). We will muddle along, doing our best (which is often enough in the moment, but generally insufficient for the transformational times we are in), making our mistakes and hopefully learning from them. The reality of massive tectonic cultural and whole-system changes – cultural evolution (LINK), climate disruption, political unrest, economic unfairness and uncertainty, massive human resettlement, global health issues – means that we have to develop different ways of leading, new models of ministry, new healing modalities, understanding living systems (LINK), and more. And, we have to be as graceful and compassionate as possible in the face of these challenges and the inner transformations they demand of us.

As I reach this point, I realize that there will have to be a Part 2 to this post – Part 1 describes that it’s raining, so Part 2 will be necessary to try and explain how to build an ark. There may be more after that – it is a rich vein of leadership awareness we are opening. I hope that this adds to the important conversation which Harv Bishop has started.

 “Mistakes are not just opportunities for learning; they are, in an important sense, the only opportunity for learning or making something truly new. Before there can be learning, there must be learners. There are only two non-miraculous ways for learners to come into existence: they must either evolve or be designed and built by learners that evolved. Biological evolution proceeds by a grand, inexorable process of trial and error — and without the errors the trials wouldn’t accomplish anything.”

 ~ Daniel C. Dennett, Intuition Pumps and Other Tools for Thinking

 

As always, your comments are welcomed!

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

My book speaks to this topic – a great gift for your spiritual leader and for yourself!

JOSEPH CAMPBELL – THE HERO’S JOURNEY, PART 4 – THE RETURN

“The usual hero adventure begins with someone from whom something has been taken, or who feels there is something lacking in the normal experience available or permitted to the members of society. The person then takes off on a series of adventures beyond the ordinary, either to recover what has been lost or to discover some life-giving elixir. It’s usually a cycle, a coming and a returning.” 

~ Joseph Campbell 

 In Parts 1 (LINK), 2 (LINK) and 3 (LINK) of this series, we explored the first three major components of the Hero’s JourneyThe Call, The Initiation, and The Abyss. In this final part, we explore The Return, where the hero returns to where she left and brings a new version of herself to her old community.

Heroes Journey Graphic

“The return is seeing the radiance everywhere. The main problem is changing the location of your mind. The town you come back to is the one you left, otherwise the journey is not complete. You give yourself to life, by leaving temporality behind. Desire for mortal gains and fear of loss hold you back from giving yourself to life.”

~ Joseph Campbell

The Return represents a most important aspect of the journey – coming home as a transformed being in some way. If the journey is coming out as gay, the return is telling family and friends who may not have known; if the journey is entering the military, it is coming home as a warrior; if the journey is entering university, it is returning with some very different ideas; if the journey is a spiritual awakening, it is returning to your community of origin as an awakened version of yourself.

‎”I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’ and found that I did not know. So… I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth and regarded this as the task of tasks…I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.”

~ C.G. Jung

One does not have to return to a specific location or situation, but there is a return – and upon returning, one is either accepted or rejected by those to whom one returns. The family may not accept a gay son or lesbian daughter; a spouse may not accept the soldier returning from combat; the university graduate may be seen as too alien for the friends and family of youth; the awakened person may not be accepted by the more conservative members of her community.

Wizard of Oz - The Return

But – and this is critical – to the hero, it is not critical whether or not he or she is accepted. It is known that a greater self has emerged and that is sufficient. There is, of course, sorrow when family ties and friendships are strained or broken, but the value of the Jewel – the greater self is realized as worthwhile by the hero.

“Medieval heroes had to slay their dragons; modern heroes have to take their dragons back home to integrate into their own personality.”

~ Robert A. Johnson, Jungian analyst, Owning Your Own Shadow

Dragon.jpg

So, the integration is within, and after that is accomplished, the integration leads to a new life, whether in the same place and with the same people or not. Often, The Return from a significant Hero’s Journey is the launching pad for a new form of life – vocation, relationships, the whole thing. Ideally, whether this is the case or not, friends and family will embrace the returning hero, being willing to set aside their preferences for a new reality – his or her new way of being. That would be ideal.

Please bring strange things.
Please come bringing new things.
Let very old things come into your hands.
Let what you do not know come into your eyes.
Let desert sand harden your feet.
Let the arch of your feet be the mountains.
Let the paths of your fingertips be your maps
and the ways you go be the lines on your palms.
Let there be deep snow in your inbreathing
and your outbreath be the shining of ice.
May your mouth contain the shapes of strange words.
May you smell food cooking you have not eaten.
May the spring of a foreign river be your navel.
May your soul be at home where there are no houses.
Walk carefully, well loved one,
Walk mindfully, well loved one,
Walk fearlessly, well loved one.
Return with us, return to us,
Be always coming home.

~ Ursula K. LeGuin

THE LESSONS OF THE HERO’S JOURNEY

The Hero’s Journey is such a prominent motif in mythology and story telling because it speaks to a universal theme of human development. Hero’s are known by their actions – but the true journey is within, to find that heretofore hidden aspect of a person which must be brought forth for her to express her True Self. Our lives are a constant stream of opportunities to grow, to realize something more about ourselves, to find out who we are and who we came to this lifetime to be.

When we heed The Call, survive The Initiation, enter and rise from The Abyss, and Return a transformed being, we serve ourselves and humanity in powerful ways. It is those who have failed along the hero’s path in some way who become destructive and wounded souls who often wreak havoc in society. Self-destructive and destructive of others, they carry their wounds and resist the rigors of the inner journey.

New Thought teachings equip us to undertake our Hero’s Journey again and again, deepening and growing each time, becoming our best selves, actualizing our potentials. We know the power of our mind and emotions, of intention and attention; we know that we must hospice what is ready to be released in our lives and midwife what is ready to be born. We know that courage is only possible where fear is present. We know that fear is merely the edge of our known reality. We are the heroes.

As always, your comments are welcomed. What are your Hero’s Journey experiences?

Copyright – Jim Lockard 2019

 

I am honored to be presenting at the ICSL Geneva Summer Retreat: EMBRACING CHANGE – A Pathway to Growth and Transformation in August. Won’t you join us at the beautiful Chateau de Bossey for a powerful weekend of personal growth and spiritual connection?

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JOSEPH CAMPBELL – THE HERO’S JOURNEY, PART 3 – THE ABYSS

“It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasures of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure. The very cave you are afraid to enter turns out to be the source of what you are looking for. The damned thing in the cave that was so dreaded has become the center. You find the jewel and it draws you off.”

~ Joseph Campbell

In Parts 1 (LINK) & 2 (LINK) of this series, I wrote about the first two stages of the Hero’s JourneyThe Call and The Initiation. In this post, I address The Abyss, where we Find the Jewel for which the first two stages have been a preparation.

Abyss - botticelli_hel

The Abyss of Hell by Sandro Botticelli

The Abyss is the dark place of limited consciousness which must be traversed in order to find the Jewel, which is the higher consciousness within you. The Jewel can be called Christ Consciousness or Buddha Mind. It is what the Holy Grail represented in the Arthurian Legends and in the Indiana Jones movies. It is that most perilous part of the journey, where the most is asked of you, and where it is easy to fail. The legendary stories are metaphors for an inner psychological and spiritual journey.

“Most heroic journeys involve going through a dark place – through mountain caverns, the underworld, or labyrinthine passages to emerge, finally, into the light.”

~ Jean Shinoda Bolen

These metaphors are guides to the Hero’s Journey. In our culture, we have lost much of our ability to understand symbols and metaphors, but they are there in the epic stories and legends of the past and present. Perhaps the great demand for the comic book heroes in cinema today is a longing for the true heroes of the stories of the past, not the wounded heroes so prevalent in our modern literature. The deep work of personal transformation requires a positive sense of the hero as an aspect of self which can strengthen you through the challenges of the journey. After all, what is at the center of the Jewel is your own destiny, a greater idea of yourself which is ready to express in your life.

“We are on the hero’s journey when we submit to the deep processes of life and allow them to affect us and bore their necessities into us. We are the hero when we take on the challenges and go through our initiations and transformations, enduring loss and gain, feeling happy and sad, making progress and falling back. The hero is engaged in life The hero is not the one who displays force and muscle without deep insight or the courage to be. The hero may not look heroic from the outside but may go through powerful developments in a quiet way. The difference is that the real hero engages life and reflects on it. She becomes more and more what he or she is destined to be.” 

~ Thomas Moore

Sometimes, a Hero’s Journey can happen while you sit in a beach chair over a weekend in deep contemplation. Or it can be at a spiritual retreat where a process helps to crack you open emotionally and make something deeper available to you. Or it can be a decades-long struggle with addiction or poor self-concept which goes through many forms of The Abyss experience. There is no single version of the journey.

“The purpose of the journey is compassion. When you have come past the pairs of opposites, you have reached compassion.”

~ Joseph Campbell

I have written about compassion (LINK) before, and it comes up in Campbell’s motif of the Hero’s Journey as well. Remember that true compassion requires a consciousness of Oneness where you see the other as being one with you. So, moving beyond the “pairs of opposites” is an essential step of the journey. And it is always possible to expand our acceptance of Oneness, so there is always more of the true self to express. This means that we have more than one Hero’s Journey on our agenda.

Patanjali Quote - Pairs of Opposites

Moving beyond the pairs of opposites means moving beyond our own limited beliefs, which are guarded by our ego’s fear-based emotional system. So, there is a fight to break through those guardians of the gate to our true self. Of course, all of this happens within us. We may give up, fail to gain the Jewel, slide back into our lives without the benefits of the journey. This simply means what we will have another Call, another opportunity to grow, but we may not answer that Call after the defeat in this experience.

The legends and stories tell us that entering the Abyss is the greatest challenge, and that our experience in the Wasteland with our teachers, positive and negative, have prepared us for this moment. However, we may still fall back. There is no escaping the need to stand strong in confronting our demons – the beliefs which hold us in bondage and necessitate the Hero’s Journey to begin with.

Heroes Journey Graphic

What we seek is already within us. What we seek is some aspect of ourselves which we have not yet expressed and is being called forth by some aspect of ourselves to face some challenge or to heal some condition. We are ALWAYS up to the challenge in potential because everything we require is always already within us. We do well to remember that basic truth.

“The hero’s main feat is to overcome darkness; it is only the long-hoped-for and expected triumph of consciousness over the unconscious.”

~ C.G. Jung

In Part 4 of this series, I will cover The Return, the final critical stage in The Hero’s Journey.

Copyright – Jim Lockard 2019

 

I will be presenting an online program in the Spiral Dynamics™ Model beginning in May. SD1 covers the basics of the model; SD2 leads to certification to use the model in teaching and consulting. The basic info is in this graphic. For more information and to register, email me at DrJim-Lockard@ATT.net and I will send you the complete information.

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JOSEPH CAMPBELL – THE HERO’S JOURNEY, PART 2 – THE INITIATION

 ‎”I asked myself, ‘What is the myth you are living?’ and found that I did not know. So… I took it upon myself to get to know ‘my’ myth and regarded this as the task of tasks…I simply had to know what unconscious or preconscious myth was forming me.”

~ C.G. Jung

 Here, Carl Jung writes about entering the Hero’s Journey voluntarily, answering The Call (LINK to Part 1) as a choice. That is often the way it happens, and once the call is answered affirmatively (or there is no choice but to continue), we cross the barrier between what is known and what is unknown. This second leg of the Hero’s Journey is often called The Initiation, or the place of challenges and temptations.

Heroes Journey Graphic

“Once having traversed the threshold, the hero moves in a dream landscape of curiously fluid, ambiguous forms, where he/she must survive a succession of trials. This is a favorite phase of the myth-adventure. It has produced a world literature of miraculous tests and ordeals. The hero is covertly aided by the advice, amulets, and secret agents of the supernatural helper whom he/she met before his entrance into this region. Or it may be that he/she here discovers for the first time that there is a benign power everywhere supporting him/her in this superhuman passage.”

~ Joseph Campbell, The Hero With A Thousand Faces

Here, after crossing the threshold, we are in the unknown, within and without. We must find our way in unfamiliar territory – think of the recruit entering boot camp or the student entering the university for the first time; the young person who has just come out regarding sexual identity; the pilgrim entering the first day of the pilgrimage. We will meet guides, some of them positive, some negative and we must learn to make our way forward. We will be tempted to go back to our comfort zone, tempted to take side journeys off of our pathway, and tempted to lose ourselves to various distractions and addictions.

Indeed, we must find our way forward by developing our inner wisdom and strength to stay true to our journey. We must discern how we are being guided and resist the temptations to give up or to sidestep the process. We must identify our teachers as such and learn whether they are positive or negative examples.

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

~ Phil Cousineau

 

Both Jesus and Buddha have stories of initiation – Jesus goes into the desert and is tempted by Satan with super powers and earthly delights; Buddha is tempted with pleasures of the sensual self – of fear and desire. Neither succumb to the temptations. They continue their journeys as examples of the courage it takes to stay true. An initiation is a rite of passage from one stage of consciousness to another. Without this passage, we remain immature and we are not up to the increasing demands of life; life expects us to mature, to grow. When we do not, we suffer personally, and we are diminished in our abilities to express our inner gifts to the world. Most of the traditional rites of initiation are gone or have become very tepid, offering no real challenge to transformation.

“The hero journey is one of the universal patterns through which that radiance shows brightly. What I think is that a good life is one hero journey after another. Over and over again, you are called to the realm of adventure, you are called to new horizons. Each time, there is the same problem: do I dare? And then if you do dare, the dangers are there, and the help also, and the fulfillment or the fiasco. There’s always the possibility of a fiasco.
But there’s also the possibility of bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Pathways to Bliss

When we leave the known and cross the barrier into the unknown, we have to develop our inner wisdom to recognize what in the outer environment can help us. We must learn the lessons, positive and negative, on the journey so that we can put ourselves into position for the great challenge ahead of us. Often, on our Hero’s Journey we meet people who are corrupt in some way. False leaders, spiritual and secular abound, however, each has something to teach us about ourselves. Our lessons may include experience such as betrayal, illness, and being victimized. We may go through a series of negative relationships as we try to find our authentic center and realize that we bring something valuable to others and deserve value in return. But we will also encounter positive teachers who encourage and support us. The Hero’s Journey is always a process of loss and gain, of release and acceptance.

 

‎”I have treated many hundreds of patients. Among those in the second half of life – that is to say, over 35 – there has not been one whose problem in the last resort was not that of finding a religious (spiritual) outlook on life.”

~ C.G. Jung

Jung’s reference is to those who have failed to heed The Call or who have failed to learn the lessons of Initiation on their Hero’s Journeys. Sometimes, the hero is called to perform a deed, but more often the journey is about spiritual development. We seek to find our way through the Initiation phase by learning to relate properly to our teachers and guides. Perhaps along the way we learn when to trust and when to be wary; when to surrender and when to resist the urge to give up; how to read people better to see what people are really saying to us. It is important that one not turn back here. The purpose of the Initiation phase is to prepare us for the great quest or challenge that is coming – the finding of the jewel of inner consciousness which is the heart of the Hero’s Journey. I will cover that in Part 3 of this series.

 “There is a certain typical hero sequence of actions, which can be detected in stories from all over the world, and from many, many periods of history. And I think it’s essentially, you might say, the one deed done by many, many different people. There are two types of deed. One is the physical deed; the hero who has performed a war act or a physical act of heroism. Saving a life, that’s a hero act. Giving himself, sacrificing himself to another. And the other kind is the spiritual hero, who has learned or found a mode of experiencing the supernormal range of human spiritual life and has then come back and communicated it. It’s a cycle. It’s a going and a return that the hero cycle represents.”

~ Joseph Campbell

 As always, your comments are appreciated below – feel free to share this post with others and, if you are so inclined, Follow this blog by entering your email in the Follow section.

 Copyright – Jim Lockard 2019

 

BALANCING CERTAINTY AND HUMILITY – A PROFOUND SPIRITUAL CHALLENGE

“Our ignorance is invisible to us.”

~ David Dunning (Dunning-Kruger effect)

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

Does humility come into the picture?

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

~ Dictionary.com

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

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

~ Brian Resnick on Intellectual Humility at Vox.com

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Theodore Isaac Rubin 

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

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

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

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

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

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

As always, your comments are welcomed.

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

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

PATIENCE AND DISCERNMENT – TWO THRIVING SKILLS FOR TODAY

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

~ C.G. Jung 

Sign - Self Knowledge

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

~ Anthony Bourdain

Beautiful Moon 7

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

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

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

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

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

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

~ Ernest Holmes,

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

#Aworldthatworksforeveryone #TheBelovedCommunity

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

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

LOOKING FOR HAPPINESS? TRY SPIRITUAL PRACTICES!

 

“If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice?”

~Maha Ghosananda

 “There is a direct connection between the quality of my life in every respect and the quality and quantity of my spiritual practices.”

~ Jim Lockard

I saw a post on social media the other day which said in essence, “I haven’t been happy since November 6, 2016.” That’s a long time not to be happy. It is also a sign that the person who posted that statement believes that his or her happiness is tied to external conditions – conditions over which he or she has little or no control.

Poster - Einstein quote on External ConditionsUnhappiness, in its various forms (anger, depression, complaining, etc.), is like a plague in our times. Amplified by social media (especially the comments sections!!), and driven by the 24-hour news cycle, it is an epidemic. While it may seem reasonable to be unhappy in the world today, it is a creative energy that we cannot afford to expand. Our thoughts are creative, as we in New Thought know, and unhappy thoughts can make unhappiness a habit.

“Complaining becomes a habit. Focusing on the negative also becomes a habit. It’s one of the most detrimental habits you can possibly have. It can negatively impact you socially, affecting your personal happiness, but it can also subconsciously sabotage your money and success.”

~ T. Harv Eker

 

The answer IS NOT to ignore the world around us or to stop caring about the well-being of others or what is best for society. The answer IS to recognize that there is always suffering in the world, that everyone is on his or her own pathway in life, that some of us will be destructive, even cruel. Having the spiritual discipline to see what is and what is not mine to do is critical. Developing the spiritual poise to discern how and where to engage and to show love, wisdom, and compassion at all times is so critical. Our practices help us to develop these qualities to levels which allow us to live a happy life and still be a positive influence, still stand up to injustice, still care deeply about our planet.

“Realize you can be happy this moment for no reason. Otherwise, you eternally depend on conditions for happiness. Unconscious of this moment, you remain a victim of circumstances.”

~ Arthur D. Saftlas 

Happiness Five Miles

Cultivating happiness as a way of being is different from having moments of happiness. A happy way of being means that we are viewing the world through a lens of inner acceptance of joy. We have decided to be happy and not allow external conditions to rob us of the joy of life. This may sound like a contradiction, but it is only contradictory to the conditioning we face in our society – driven by old limited ideas, mass media wanting to gather our eyes and ears to sell us things, and habit. When we clear our consciousness of blind adherence to such a worldview, other possibilities open up to us – including happiness.

“Things that matter are not easy. Feelings of happiness are easy. Happiness is not. Flirting is easy. Love is not. Saying you’re friends is easy. Being friends is not.”

~ David Levithan

 “Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better take things as they come along with patience and equanimity.”

 ~ C.G Jung

The quotes above speak to the reality that a happy way of being does not mean a life without challenges or sadness. The speak to a life of determination and being unattached to external outcomes. The difficulties of sustaining a happy way of being are largely due to the truth that most of us are surrounded by people and a society which has developed a fear-based way of being. Rising above this into happiness takes clear intention, disciplined practice, and a conscious awareness of who we really are.

Poster - Rumi - Eyes Are Open

“Each of us must learn to live with paradox, or we cannot live peacefully or happily even a single day of our lives. In fact, we must even learn to love paradox, or we will never be wise, forgiving, or possess the patience of good relationships.”

~ Richard Rohr

The unpredictability of life and all of its paradoxes are not things to be feared, but to be deeply appreciated. There are wonders we have yet to access, surprises around every corner, and aspects of ourselves which we have not yet revealed. Bringing a way of being to this reality which supports openness to the new and to paradox means that we will be happy more of the time. And every “miracle” starts with a problem. Positive spiritual warriorship includes the ability to discern whether, where, and how to engage. Warriorship includes a healthy version of the Destroyer Archetype – the aspect of self which, when mature, knows how to remove things which no longer serve us, or are our responsibility.

Our practices should include forgiveness and gratitude. Forgiveness to release needless attachment to grievances and old wounds; gratitude to foster deep recognition of the blessings of every life.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.”

~ G.K. Chesterton

 

Happiness is a decision which, with practice, becomes a way of being.

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

You can see my regular blog posts for AGNT here:  https://www.agnt.today/blog

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