ESSAY: WHY IS TRUE EQUALITY TAKING SO LONG?

This is an essay, meaning that it is significantly longer than a regular blog post. You may want to bookmark it an come back to it if you don’t finish it in one reading. I did it in this format because I felt that the topic was better served within a single essay format than by breaking it up into parts. As always, your comments are welcomed in the comments section below. I will be on vacation for a few weeks and will not be posting – I will check in on your comments, however.

 

A thousand times I have ascertained and found it to be true:

the affairs of this world are really nothing into nothing.

Still though, we should dance.

~ Hafiz 

 Humanity seems to be in the process of waking up to some of our collective past inequities. This is nothing new, all of human history is about waking up as we learn and develop, however the current awakenings, sometimes called becoming “woke,” are to be celebrated. We are waking up to the idea that in the past, we have been unfair or worse in our collective characterizations, definition, and actions toward just about anyone who was not a part of the current dominant race or class.

This has included people of color, women, children, those who did not conform to rigid gender definitions and expressions, and so on. From the Civil Rights Movement in the 1960’s, the Women’s Movement in the 1970’s, and LGBTQIA+ Pride movements beginning in the 1980’s, we have seen an awakening in (in the developed nations at least) in varying degrees to the need to recognize and honor equality. These movements are among the expressions of the Postmodern-Green Level of Existence in the The Spiral Dynamics™ Model (LINK). The Green level is complex and those arriving at this level of complexity view exposing past wrongs as essential in the process of moving forward to a healthier cultural future.

This awakening process is far from over, and once it is, there will undoubtedly be other things to awaken to, but we are making some progress, if not enough fast enough. This essay is an exploration of this dynamic, where it seems to be stuck and how it can move forward.

“A lot of our ideas about what we can do at different ages and what age means are so arbitrary — as arbitrary as sexual stereotypes. I think that the young-old polarization and the male-female polarization are perhaps the two leading stereotypes that imprison people. The values associated with youth and with masculinity are considered to be the human norms, and anything else is taken to be at least less worthwhile or inferior. Old people have a terrific sense of inferiority. They’re embarrassed to be old. What you can do when you’re young and what you can do when you’re old is as arbitrary and without much basis as what you can do if you’re a woman or what you can do if you’re a man.”

~ Susan Sontag

It seems that human nature is such that if people can hold themselves above someone else, or hold their group above other groups, they will usually do so. If a previously subjugated group ends up in power, they are likely to subjugate their former oppressors, at first by seeking revenge, and then by institutionalizing the subjugation. The process of seeking equality with a group which has held you in bondage or subjugated you or otherwise treated you badly is always a struggle and it is difficult to see the oppressor as human or as worthy of love or respect.

“When we are in conflict we tend to make such sharp oppositions between ideas and attitudes and get caught and entangled in what seems to be a hopeless choice, but when the neurotic ambivalence is resolved one tends to move beyond sharp differences, sharply defined boundaries and begins to see the interaction between everything, the relation between everything.”

~ Anaïs Nin 

The Spiral Dynamics Model can be helpful in understanding these dynamics. The model shows human development through the lens of increasing complexity and the values systems which emerge as our thought becomes more complex. The six stages or Levels of Existence which make up the 1st Tier account for perhaps 95% of all humans. These stages are all fear based, which is an important consideration in how we treat those who are different from us. When 2nd Tier stages emerge, this fear is gone, and an appreciation for all Levels of Existence is possible. At 1st Tier levels, there is always some fear of the other.

When an individual or group is centered at any of the first 5 Levels of Existence (represented by the colors Beige, Purple, Red, Blue, and Orange) the process of stereotyping and the conquest of others is a generally accepted way of life within the values systems of those levels. Human history bears this out, of course, and today we are dealing with both current expressions of these values systems and the after-effects of that history, most notably the periods of the Crusades and European Colonialism (including the expansion into the Americas). The murder and enslavement of the peoples of Africa, the murder and denial of education to vast swaths of the Arab world, and the genocide of the Native American peoples have left us legacies of deep harm which have yet to be fully understood, much less repaired in our times. In the East, the pogroms of Russia and the USSR, the Cultural Revolution of Mao Tse Tung, and the genocide of Pol Pot, among other atrocities, continue to affect the cultural evolutionary process.

“A stereotype carries no numinosity, no living energy, no intensity of feeling. A stereotype is a worn-out vision, a dead archetype, or perhaps even worse, a parody of it.”

~ Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst

VMEMEs Simplified

The emergence of Postmodern-Green, the most complex 1st Tier Level of Existence (LINK), has brought the emergence of systems thinking, or the ability to see many more connections among human systems than was previously possible. A result of this is the capacity and the desire to recognize past injustices and bad practices, reveal them, and encourage society to take steps to bring about a more egalitarian and fair culture.

While this is a positive step in our overall cultural development, there are new and complex challenges which arise when deep cultural shadows are brought to the light. While most people who are centered at the Green Level of Existence see the necessity of such revelations and also value egalitarian expressions of culture in all circumstances, those who are centered at less complex levels have different values. These include resistance to deep shadow exploration, both personal and societal. At the Traditionalist-Blue level, nationalistic pride takes precedence over any suffering which resulted in the building of one’s nation. Also, a more simplistic worldview sees through a very personal lens and has less understanding of differences which are not within their own experience. Racism and sexism become institutionalized and largely invisible to the privileged groups, who have little incentive to look beneath the surface.

Note that oppressed people at every Level of Existence on the Spiral are aware of their oppression and have a deeper understanding of its dynamics, since they live with it every day and do not have the privilege of ignoring it.

The emergence of those centered at Green in larger and larger numbers brings a values system which seeks to dig deeper as part of the process to create a fair and equitable society, including making amends for past oppression. But these Green voices are distinct if growing minority and have less presence in the centers of cultural power than Modernist-Orange and Traditionalist-Blue currently have. The response to calls for greater equality, civility, and non-violence in our society has often been a backlash of the opposite – because those levels below Green do not share the same values or worldview.

Blue-Orange power structures operate according to who has power and they do just about anything to gain and hold power. They value competition and winners get and deserve status, wealth, and the power to dictate to the rest of society. Witness current politics in the developed west; a mélange of Blue and Orange values systems fighting for control, seeking every advantage including those gained through corruption. Corporate (Orange) power using money to get the “right” politicians elected to gain influence and enable competition without regulation. Billionaires have easy access to others in power and to the media, in fact, they own much of the media. With few exceptions, they are not interested in greater equality as it would mean less influence and attention for them.

The typical white person in the middle or working class has a different lens, but one which generally supports the billionaires and power brokers, whom they admire. At Blue and especially Orange there is value in making it on your own, and there is little acknowledgement that everyone in a nation like the United States doesn’t have equal opportunities to succeed. This is a mostly, but far from entirely, unconscious belief system. Another example is the mostly unconscious, culturally driven nature of Blue/Orange racism which is captured well in this quote from a recent article:

“If you asked rural Americans how they felt about people of any particular minority group, most would pride themselves on having an unassuming, open-minded acceptance. And, for the most part, that is true on a personal level. But, to them, racism is a Klansman in a movie. It isn’t a contemporary power structure, or an implicit bias that gets black teenagers killed. They don’t see that. They can, on the other hand, see themselves struggling. They just very earnestly do not get it. The minorities they do know are — like that little girl in my third-grade class — pressured to fit in, to stay quiet. They’re not talking much about racism.”

~ Larry Womack, The Independent, UK (LINK)

Those who seek to bring about a more egalitarian and sustainable future for humanity, most of whom are centered at Green and above, would do well to have a greater understanding of the levels of complexity and the values systems of those centered elsewhere on the spiral. Those at any Level of Existence on the Spiral who do not have an understanding of the dynamics of the spiral, believe others share their own values system and that they only have to convincingly state their premise and others will see the truth of it and come into harmony or compliance. This is particularly true at the Green level, where feelings are very important. This naivety regarding how they are being heard has led to a considerable amount of anger at Green expressions, and those at Green are uncomfortable with anger. This has led to expressions such as “Call-Out Culture” (LINK) and “Cancel Culture” (LINK), two ways of using social media to correct what is judged to be bad behavior. Green will try to lovingly bring people into compliance but can become authoritarian (channeling Blue values) if others do not comply.

The problem with these approaches is that they are perceived by their targets as coming from levels of complexity and values systems which they do not possess or accept. Each 1st Tier Level of Existence works best within its own level and has difficulty working across levels. Many at Orange and below, for example, see the Green views on sexism and racism as overly sensitive and unrealistic; this is especially true on topics such as gender fluidity and cultural misappropriation.

In November, according to some conservative media outlets, there was a “War on Thanksgiving” – meaning the Green focus on recognizing the true story of early settlers and Native Americans rather than the fairy tale generally taught to children and believed by adults. This, of course, sits beside the ongoing “War on Christmas” which consists of suggestions that “Happy Holidays” be a default greeting if you do not know the faith tradition of the person(s) to whom you are speaking. But most of those in privileged groups centered at Orange and below don’t want to be told that their cherished nation and its traditions are essentially flawed, or that their default Christian culture is not at the center of Americanism. With some exceptions, they simply will not hear it.

We also see push-back and cries of excessive political correctness by comedians and others against proposed bans on certain kinds of jokes. While the views expressed by those centered at Green reflect more complex ways of looking at these issues and a compassionate desire for people to be accepted for who they are, these points are lost on many at Orange and below on the spiral. This segment from Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee is about this topic:

LINK to Comedians In Cars Video

Comedian.jpg

It is important to note that each of the Levels of Existence on the Spiral were once leading-edge thinking. When Living Conditions became more complex people tended to adapt to new levels of complexity. Those who do not adapt have trouble keeping up with greater complexity, and the pace of change and increased complexity is growing ever more rapid. This means that if you do not adapt, you get further behind, making life more difficult in many ways.

It is also important to note that at every Level of Existence on the Spiral, the thinking and values are internally logical – they just may not be adequate to address a more complex outside world. As we move up through the Spiral by adapting to more complex Living Conditions, it is important that we retain the positive values of each level as we leave it behind – Red assertiveness, Blue ethical systems, Orange self-agency, and so on. If we do not retain these healthy values, we are more likely to express in unhealthy ways at higher levels. This shows up as Orange refusing to accept Blue regulatory processes on Orange’s excesses or as Green refusing to accept Orange self-agency and expecting everyone to accept whatever Green is saying as irrefutable.

While many of the emerging ideas from the Green level are, in fact, morally good ideas arising from a more complex worldview, the authors of these ideas and their supporters often fail to understand the dynamics of complexity and values on the entire spiral. They sometimes take absolutist positions as to the rightness of these ideas and are surprised when others do not agree; then all too frequently, they denigrate those who do not agree. The idea of being woke or being in tune with the prevalence of racism and sexism in the dominant culture is seen as a given by many at Green, but is generally viewed as a form of elitism and political correctness at Blue and Orange.

Hence #CancelCulture and other hashtags like #GenderFluidity and #HeyBoomer, are, ironically, used to be dismissive of others outside the parameters of healthy Green values. There is always truth in the issues raised, however, those accused of being complicit in mass misbehavior often do not see things in the same way. Raising awareness is a first step in bringing change, and in that first step there will be dissonance as people hear things for the first time. The question for me is how to best move through that dissonance toward resonance more quickly and with less negativity.

This brief Twitter exchange illustrates this point:

Twitter

The comment from @ChaosComet about being perceived as part of the problem regardless of intention gets an accurate but very Postmodernist-Green and complex response from @emrazz. If @ChaosComet is centered at Orange or below on the Spiral, they will not get the complexity nor see the value in the complex idea – they will find it confusing and feel unheard or diminished. The real issue here is not so much one of values, but one of complexity and how we communicate with one another.

True equality is taking so long to realize because the strong desire for it is only recently emerging in human thinking and values systems. To progress forward more rapidly, we need strong, positive, and compassionate leadership, 2nd Tier worldviews and skills, including the solutions noted below.

SOME SOLUTIONS:

There are few immediate solutions because we are in a time where change is constant, the old models are in decline or have already failed, and the new models have yet to emerge or be recognized. This means that we have to find our way forward without a clearly defined understanding of where we are going in most instances. This requires a different set of knowledge, skills and abilities (KSAs) for leaders.

“Whatever leadership used to be — it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were. The kind of leadership that I want to explore may not be identifiable as leadership at all.  I am interested in a kind of mutually alert care and attention to the well-being of all people and ecological systems. This kind of leadership cannot be found in individuals, but rather between them. It cannot be found in organizations, nations, religions or institutions, but rather between them. I have called it Liminal Leadership to highlight the relational characteristics.”

~ Nora Bateson

Leadership today is like being a ship’s captain before modern navigational instruments, sailing through a fog that goes on and on. You have to keep the crew motivated during uncertain times – and today’s “crew” consists of people at various stages of development in terms of complexity and values. Those in leadership positions need to be sensitive to the different values systems present and communicate across the spiral effectively. It begins with kindness and the development of compassion.

“I have read somewhere of an old Chinese curse: ‘May you be born in an interesting time!’ This is a VERY interesting time: there are no models for ANYTHING that is going on. It is a period of free fall into the future, and each has to make his or her own way. The old models are not working; the new have not yet appeared. In fact, it is we who are even now shaping the new in the shaping of our interesting lives. And that is the whole sense (in mythological terms) of the present challenge: we are the ‘ancestors’ of an age to come, the unwitting generators of its supporting myths, the mythic models that will inspire its lives.”

~ Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

Another key factor, one that is not directly addressed in the Spiral Dynamics Model, is the emotional intelligence (EQ) (LINK) of those involved, especially leaders. EQ is the ability to know and manage one’s emotions and to have an awareness of the emotional states of others. In uncertain times, the pressure rises, and emotional intelligence is more and more important for us to navigate.

“As much as 80% of adult ‘success’ comes from EQ.”

~ Daniel Goleman

What we often see in Green’s attempt to get other stages to accept responsibility for (or complicity in) past bad practices is low emotional intelligence on one or both sides of the conversation. In such cases, the conversation becomes a shouting match and future harmony becomes more difficult to manifest. It takes high emotional intelligence to calmly process your own shortcomings, especially if you are hearing them for the first time. It also takes high emotional intelligence to communicate in such a way as to raise awareness and gain cooperation in getting to resolution of deep cultural issues.

One positive leadership practice can be to model and teach emotional intelligence in your community or organization. When integrated with positive spiritual principles, this is a very powerful way to develop spiritual poise.

Another positive leadership practice is to model and teach good listening skills in your community or organization. This is an essential element of compassion – the ability and willingness to listen deeply, both within yourself and to others.

A third positive leadership practice is to model and teach humility in your community or organization. To be humble is to be true to what you are, which is a divine being having a human experience, but one who still has much to learn.

A fourth positive leadership practice is to model and teach patience, especially patience for people to develop along the spiral to more complex stages and values systems. This can be a challenging aspect of leadership – impatience with those who are not as developed as you, perhaps not as woke as you. It is important to remember that all of us are works in progress and that none of us is in our final form.

Emotional Intelligence, Deep Listening, and Humility tempered with Patience are a strong foundation for building equality in spiritual community and in organizations. When applied well, people at all Levels of Existence can cooperate and co-create interdependent living systems which can contribute to creating The Beloved Community.

“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

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

I will be leading a retreat for men on healthy masculinity at

The Center for Spiritual Living Simi Valley

on January 3rd (evening) and 4th (9a-5p).

If you are in the SoCal area and are interested, visit the link:

(LINK)

SIMI - THE HEALTHY MASCULINE

AVAILABLE ON AMAZON:

https://www.amazon.com/Creating-Beloved-Community-Spiritual-Leadership-ebook/dp/B01MR2IOBA/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3G8OYZYCLFD5B&keywords=creating+the+beloved+community&qid=1575645208&sprefix=creating+the+b%2Caps%2C208&sr=8-1

ROOT CAUSE: HEALING THE MASCULINE CONSCIOUSNESS, PART 5

“It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

~ Frederick Douglass

In Parts 1 (LINK), 2 (LINK), 3 (LINK), and 4 (LINK) I covered a number of aspects of what makes up the wounded masculine and how it shows up in individuals and societies. In this final part, I will attempt to describe healthy masculine energy and how it can form a balance with the healthy feminine in people.

Without such a balance, we are incomplete in our ability to express authentically in life. As noted earlier, in our culture boys tend to be raised so as to minimize or eliminate feminine tendencies; girls tend to be raised so as to minimize masculine tendencies. Here is some typical advertising, some modern, some from my earlier years:

masculine 19

Children generally have to fight their parents and others when the energies of expression opposite their appearance is strong. The terms “tomboy” and “sissy” are still used to describe such children. For most children, the process is one of accepting the signals from parents (who are watching carefully for deviation from the gender norms) and society and repressing the opposite energy. The results are often wounded people who lack inner balance and express incompletely and, too often, harmfully in society. The entertainment media provides a great imbalance in male role models.

Masculine 20

So, what does healthy masculine energy look like? First of all, I think that healthy masculine energy is filled with wonder and curiosity.

The masculine qualities include initiation, protection, adventure, warriorship, cleverness, and exploration. The feminine qualities include creativity, ferocity (think of a mother protecting her children), homemaking/nesting, perpetuating the stories of the tribe, nurturing, and wisdom. When in balance, these qualities compliment one another in an individual. When one set of qualities has been repressed, the person will seek completion by developing defenses and compensatory behaviors – think “macho man” and the “sex symbol.” The masculine or feminine qualities operate without balance or restraint, leading to dysfunction in life.

The healthy masculine energy when balanced with healthy feminine energy has an expanded capacity for both creativity and compassion. Yet, this person can also be a wise warrior – the healthy masculine is tough when necessary, but also capable of expressing great gentleness, and not afraid of either. If a man, he is able to express emotions, be vulnerable, but also be assertive when appropriate. He is capable of great intimacy with lovers and friends as well. If a woman, she is able to assert her power as a creative individual and collaborate effectively with others.

The balance of healthy masculine and feminine energies also increases the likelihood that the person will have higher emotional and spiritual intelligence. This means that he or she has dominion over emotions and can remain in control in very stressful situations. It means that he or she is not easily knocked off balance by others; they have fewer “buttons to push.” This also means a greater openness to self-examination, especially for men, who are often reticent to explore within themselves. Note the percentage of men and women in New Thought spiritual communities or in therapy.

Healthy masculine energy does not repress feminine energy, and it has a positive inner relationship with the Anima, or inner female. Therefore, men with a healthy balance of energies do not abuse women, nor see them as less than human, nor as sex objects. They do not seek women as sexual conquests, but as partners in relationship. They are comfortable working with women and having women as supervisors.

There are, of course, divine aspects of the masculine and feminine; ideal forms of these energies which are available to each of us to actualize. But this is difficult when we have been conditioned to be out of balance in these energies.

It is incumbent upon all of us to search within and really feel into our Anima and Animus energies. To seek therapy where appropriate, to find groups in which to explore these energies safely, and to be very conscious of how we address these energies in one another – especially in our children. We need to honor all forms of gender expression as an important step to accepting the reality that our masculine and feminine energies do not necessarily honor our gender appearance. And the truth is that most of us have been conditioned to repress one or the other energies in favor of a socially acceptable expression of gender. Changing our expectations in this regard is a healthy way forward.

Finally, we must come to terms with the reality that many people are simply not going to be willing to take the necessary steps to recognize and honor full human authenticity. So be it. That must not stop those with the awareness of the need to do so from developing these capacities and expressing them. While this can be dangerous, and one must take precautions, it is more dangerous to repress who we are.

“Never for the sake of convenience or acceptance give up the authenticity of your journey.”

~ Bishop Yvette Flunder

Finally, healing wounded masculinity is both a huge challenge and a necessity for individuals and for all of humanity alike. It is a Hero’s Journey we all must take, as it is the root of so many of our challenges and also of our greatest potentials.

And for the last word:

“As you proceed through life, following your own path, birds will shit on you. Don’t bother to brush it off.
Getting a comedic view of your situation gives you spiritual distance.
Having a sense of humor saves you.”

~ Joseph Campbell

As always, your comments are welcomed. For those who have persevered through this series, I thank you. Please feel free to share with others who may be interested.

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

My Companion in blogging about things New Thought, Harv Bishop, has published an anthology of materials from his HarvBishop.com Blog. It is titled NEW THOUGHT (R)EVOLUTIONARY, and there is an interview of me in the book. You can find it at Amazon.com. Check it out.

Bishop Book Image.png

SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP AND FOLLOWERSHIP IN TIMES OF TRANSFORMATIONAL CHANGE – PART 2

“Don’t judge Religious Science by Religious Scientists.”

~ (the late) Rev. Dr. William Taliaferro

If you read Part 1 (LINK) of this series, and the two recent posts from Harvey Bishop’s Blog, entitled “Don’t Look Behind the Curtain,” (LINK to Part 1) (LINK to Part 2), you know that these series were initiated based on how some Centers for Spiritual Living (CSL) spiritual leaders have treated practitioners who were unwilling or unable to meet requirements set for them, usually about financial giving. If you have not already, you might want to catch up on those posts before you continue.

While Bishop has focused on the treatment of some practitioners using unskillful, even shaming leadership tactics, my focus as also included the aspect of good followership – the accountability of members of a spiritual community, particularly people in positions such as staff ministers or practitioners to both the leadership and the community as a whole. I see followership not in any diminished sense, but in the realization that every organization needs both leaders and followers who are as healthy and accountable as possible. In CSL, staff ministers and practitioners are actually in both roles, serving in followership to the spiritual leader(s) and in secondary leadership to the membership.

 

I have also focused in Part 1 of this series on issues that so many bring into their roles – psychological and/or emotional issues from earlier in life, issues which have not been resolved and which affect current thinking and behaviors. When we have unresolved issues, we are often incapable of being our best, particularly when we feel under pressure or in fear. This might show up as taking an unskillful approach when confronting a practitioner about being out of integrity with some agreement (financial or otherwise). It might equally show up as feeling a burning sense of shame when reminded by the spiritual leader that one is out of integrity with an agreed upon expectation, even when that reminder is skillfully expressed in an appropriate manner.

Naturally, the higher the position of authority one has, the more accountable one is for one’s behaviors. But we are all accountable for our own behaviors, are we not? Now, I am in no way saying that the stories shared in Bishop’s blog are inaccurate. As described, they reflect a failure of appropriate leadership at a minimum. They seem to illustrate a lack of emotional intelligence, which almost always results in failed interpersonal communications.

 

But I wonder.

I wonder how many of those practitioners approached the spiritual leader(s) of their community and shared that they would be unable to meet the expected level of giving? Or did they leave it for someone else to discover? I wonder whether the spiritual leaders communicated the policy regarding giving to the practitioners AND had they created an atmosphere in which it felt safe for practitioners to let the leaders know if and when they were unable (or unwilling) to meet the expectations in the policy?

In my time as a spiritual leader, we usually had giving expectations which were both clear and flexible; and I had situations where practitioners or others on the leadership team did not meet the expectations. Some told me about it as it unfolded, others did not. While I can understand their embarrassment, I cannot approve of their lack of accountability in not approaching me for that conversation when I had encouraged them to do just that. Of course, their lack of accountability did not give me permission to be unskillful or to shame them – it also did not give me permission to ignore the problem.

Perhaps we are talking about two different things here (although they are often intertwined). One is how often those of us in spiritual leadership fail to be the best version of ourselves when we feel pressured (and how easy it can be for us to feel pressured); indeed, how many in spiritual leadership lack necessary temperament and competencies for their positions. The second thing is the too-frequent breakdown of an atmosphere of accountability and support among the leadership teams of our spiritual communities, usually due to failure to address issues proactively.

So-What-Am-I-Supposed-to-Do-HEADER

AND: what are WE supposed to do?

“Not responding is a response –

we are equally responsible for what we don’t do.”

~ Jonathan Safran Foer

Deep-seated personal issues on which we have not done deep spiritual work are unlikely to be resolved until we engage with that work; this is true for both leaders and followers. However, there are some things that leaders can initiate to create an environment of trust, safety, and accountability.

  1. Have you explored the pros and cons of having required giving expectations? Why or why not? What are the costs and benefits, both financially and to the culture of the spiritual community? What does having such a policy say about prosperity consciousness (or lack thereof)? And if you have such a policy, how and when is it communicated? Is it written into bylaws or policy manuals? If not, why not?

  2. Leaders should promote the overall mental and spiritual health of the leadership team and the spiritual community. Have the conversation often: state expectations clearly (put them in writing where appropriate); speak about openness and accountability; create space for people to share what is bothering them – either in groups or one-on-one. Make it safe to have personal problems or concerns about policies. Do this with your board and your ministerial/practitioner teams regularly.

  3. Ask people how things are going and do so when there is the opportunity to respond truthfully – not during fellowship time or in other inappropriate situations.

  4. Leaders – show your own vulnerability from time to time. This is healthy. It can, however, become unhealthy if it becomes your default way of being. If you are a leader, you have the accountability to lead and to set an example of integrity and compassion. Finding the proper balance is a sign of emotional intelligence.

  5. Followers – you can best support your leaders by being honest and open with them. Being an accountable follower means that you are supportive, but not in lockstep with the leader(s). It does not mean always getting your way or never disagreeing, but it may mean supporting an approved policy with which you do not agree. If leaders are not open to hearing you, or if they are toxic (LINK), you must protect yourself; do not remain in an unhealthy situation – if you can’t influence it in a positive direction and it is toxic, your best option may be to leave.

  6. If there are ethical violations occurring, use the ethics process. Ethical standards and procedures for Centers for Spiritual Living are described in Section 7.1 & 7.2 of the Policies and Procedures Manual. It is advisable to review this before making a formal complaint if you are a minister or practitioner. If you are not, you probably do not have easy access to that document. The contact information for ethics complaints is below. I am sure that Unity has a similar set of policies and procedures.

Centers for Spiritual Living
Rev. Barbara Bue, Licensing and Credentialing Manager
Email: bbue@CSL.org Phone:  +1 (720) 279-1634
573 Park Point Drive Golden, CO 80401, USA

These are particularly challenging times for leaders of all kinds. We are facing tectonic shifts in cultural evolution and issues such as the worsening climate crisis, among many others. As Nora Bateson has written:

“Whatever leadership used to be — it used to be. Now, it has to be something different. Now, we all have to be more than we were. The kind of leadership that I want to explore may not be identifiable as leadership at all.  I am interested in a kind of mutually alert care and attention to the well-being of all people and ecological systems. This kind of leadership cannot be found in individuals, but rather between them. It cannot be found in organizations, nations, religions or institutions, but rather between them. I have called it Liminal Leadership to highlight the relational characteristics.”

~ Nora Bateson

 

I think it is obvious that leaders facing these kinds of transformational challenges which affect the very nature of leadership itself must improve their ability to have positive interpersonal relationships with everyone, especially those in their inner circles. New Thought Organizations can only do so much for spiritual leaders in this regard – perhaps better psychological testing at entry level and better support for those in service, but spiritual leaders have to be open to such interventions, and that has too often not been the case. Additionally, no one wants a heavy-handed organization intervening too often. Most issues are best resolved at the local community level – and taking personal accountability is a significant and necessary first step.

The organizations do need to improve their ability and knowledge to develop and support healthy and competent spiritual leaders – focusing on emotional and spiritual intelligence as understood today would be a good start. Many issues within a spiritual community do not rise to the level of ethics violations but are extremely destructive. Blaming the larger organization usually misses the point – accountability lies with each of us to be in the highest and best integrity in our roles, regardless of the behaviors of others.

There may be more to come on this topic but let me close this post with a quote from a distinguished citizen of my new hometown, Lyon, France. I think that Ernest Holmes would agree.

“You must begin by assuming responsibility. And you alone are responsible for every moment of your life, for every one of your acts.”

~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

As always, your comments are welcomed!

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!

COMPASSION MEANS EXTENDING THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

“We need to strengthen such inner values as contentment, patience and tolerance, as well as compassion for others. Keeping in mind that it is expressions of affection rather than money and power that attract real friends, compassion is the key to ensuring our own well-being.”

~ Dalai Lama XIV 

 The Dalai Lama’s statement is true at both the individual and collective levels. If we are to move forward as humanity, we will have to find ways to be together which are life-affirming, sustainable, and imbued with wisdom. Finding our way forward in the face of so many challenges (climate collapse, racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, rogue capitalism, and so on) seems daunting as people harden their worldviews and so often demonize those who see things differently. Polarization is increasing in many places resulting in greater difficulties in connecting across divisions of value systems.

What separates us is our fear and ignorance – of ourselves and of one another. What separates us is our response to our woundedness and the sensitive emotional (and sometimes physical) scar tissue which we have developed, too often making us blind defenders of our worldviews. We so often fail to see that our knowledge is always limited and at least a little bit misinformed, and this is true of those with opposite worldviews as well. At a minimum, we need more self-awareness so that we can at least see others more clearly and less as reflections of our own repressed energies.

To have compassion is to see from Oneness, to feel genuine empathy for others, to practice ongoing forgiveness of self and others, to hold others harmless and to wish them well, despite our disagreements. It does not mean that we let others harm us, in fact, people who are self-compassionate do not abuse others and they REFUSE TO BE ABUSED themselves. Until we develop self-compassion, our sense of connection to others will be but a projection from a wounded self – and not very substantial.

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

~ Bruce Sanguin

I am currently in the final month of a nine-month program, teaching a group of private students what I call “metaphysical psychology.” A key element of the program is a deep dive into Shadow and emotional work. There is no coming to consciousness without this kind of work. Sorry, but that is the case. Deep spiritual work is essential to deal with our inevitable sense of being wounded in our lives. Until we heal our emotional selves, we will project our fears, hurt, and anger onto others, making compassion impossible and prolonging our state of human conflict. Giving the benefit of the doubt does not release one from accountability, it simply acknowledges our humanness.

Forgiveness is an essential element for developing compassion. Ongoing, daily, moment-by-moment forgiveness of self and others is a practice worth pursuing. Again, this does not mean a denial of accountability, but it does mean a refusal to diminish self or others with guilt and shame. Being at our best means being in a state of forgiveness. Otherwise, we continue to project our woundedness onto others.

Forgive Stone

We are not, at base, malevolent creatures, although when wounded, or when our sense of desperation exceeds our understanding of our true nature, we can act in malevolent ways. When we are healed and when we are compassionate, malevolent actions are impossible. The saying “hurt people hurt people” rings very true in this regard. We can do our best to express love and compassion to all, and we can learn to be unattached to how they respond. True compassion is never conditional. It is our natural way of being, given freely, without regard to its acceptance. The work is getting back to that primal state which exists within us, just below the scar tissue. It awaits us patiently as we do our work. It is the process of remembering who we really are and our true nature.

Have compassion for everyone you meet
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

~ Miller Williams, “Compassion in The Ways We Touch”

 Developing the awareness that human dysfunction is not a natural state, but the result of fear, ignorance, and wounding is a rare quality in today’s world. It is, of course, also a way that we are given opportunities to learn and grow – but we must respond positively to those opportunities. Most people see behavior as a direct indication of who a person is, rather than the result of how the person has integrated their experiences into a personality. When we KNOW that there is a compassionate being in there beneath the fear and wounding, we can more easily be empathetic ourselves. Once we have developed true compassion, we will do this automatically and speak to the compassionate being inside the other person. This may be disconcerting to them, and it may also influence that aspect of the other person to come closer to the surface.

“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers.”

~ Susan Sontag

Acting from compassion, even when automatic, can be frightening. Compassion leads us places where the guarded and comfortable will not go. It sees through appearances of fear and ignorance more easily, and it calls us to action rather than to complacency. It requires regular practices to keep it in mind and heart.

Chaos Compassion Bubble

To be godlike, to imitate Christ, to express Buddha consciousness, to be true to Islamic principles, and to embody the Science of Mind all require one to develop compassion. It is both the root and the destination of all spiritual practices across faith traditions. It is also the goal of the atheist. It is our ultimate destination as human beings. Today, humanity is calling out for compassion, but mostly unknowingly. We arm our nations’ militaries and reinforce our personal inner departments of defense (anger, hatred, buying weapons) when what we really want is to live in compassionate societies. In our ignorance and fear, we so often do exactly the opposite from what we need to do. If we really want #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone, we must do better.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~ Dalai Lama XIV

Only those with the awareness of these truths will seek out their expression. So, if you are aware, you have an assignment – find your compassion, first for yourself and then for others. Do your spiritual work, daily and minute-by-minute. This is not just to be happy, but to be happy, fulfilled, and a contributor to the greater good. Become who you came into this incarnation to be and be a true force for expanded love and compassion in our world. Spirit has your back.

“When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”

~ Pema Chödrön

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

Register now for this great conference in Geneva this August!

Embracing Change:

A Pathway to Growth and Transformation

Lisa Ferraro and I are keynote presenters and there will be wonderful workshops from international presenters all in a gorgeous setting on Lake Geneva in view of the Alps!

LINK to info and registration:  https://www.icsl-geneva.com/ 

Online Marketing Piece 1

JOSEPH CAMPBELL – THE HERO’S JOURNEY, PART 1 – THE CALL

The mythological motif called The Hero’s Journey represents a significant passage in human consciousness and experience – from one place to another; from one way of being to another; from one sense of self to another. In his classic book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES (LINK) (LINK to PDF) Joseph Campbell (LINK) describes this almost universal motif across several of the world’s mythic traditions.

It is always an inner journey, and often as outer one as well. Hero’s Journeys can last a lifetime or a weekend. There are a number of stages to the journey, represented in this graphic:

Heroes Journey Graphic

The Call is the first step – we are enticed, encouraged, coerced, even kidnapped into a new experience. In some cases, we have no choice, in others we can accept or deny the call. When we deny the call, we also deny the treasure – the form of higher consciousness – which awaits us when we are successful in moving through the journey. We are called away from our comfort zone and deeper within to realize something that has not been called forth from within us before. It may be a whisper from within that it’s time for a new job or to alter a relationship; it may be leaving home for the first time to attend college or for a job; it may be being conscripted into the military or getting a diagnosis of cancer. There are many versions of The Call to the Hero’s Journey. We may be involved in several at once. Campbell writes of The Call as the moment of choice when the gods call us forward to a greater expression of ourselves. “Yes” means we begin the journey, “no” means that we stagnate, and perhaps putrefy.

“The hero’s journey has been compared to a birth: it starts with being warm and snug in a safe place; then comes a signal, growing more insistent, that it is time to leave. To stay beyond your time is to putrefy. Without the blood & tearing and pain, there is no new life.”

~ Joseph Campbell

 

“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 

 

“If a person has had the sense of ‘the Call’ – the feeling that there’s an adventure for him — and if he doesn’t follow that but remains in the society because it’s safe and secure, then life dries up. And then he comes to a condition in late middle age: he’s gotten to the top of the ladder and found that it’s against the wrong wall.
If you have the guts to follow the risk, however, life opens, opens, opens up all along the line. I’m not superstitious, but I do believe in spiritual magic, you might say. If one follows what I call one’s bliss — the thing that really gets you deep in your gut and that you feel is your life – doors will open up. They do!”

~ Joseph Campbell

The Call is frightening at first. After we have been through the cycle a few times, we may come to welcome The Call, but it always signals a time of trial and deep learning. Our egos fear this process, as the role of the ego is to support the current worldview, the current consciousness. When we announce that we are changing, or are thrown into change, we upset the ego which resists the change process. How we deal with this resistance is a sign of our emotional and spiritual intelligence.

“Resistance blooms naturally in the presence of change. You will encounter resistance in attempts at ascendance, physical or spiritual. … Remember, though, that resistance is also a good omen. It means you’re close to something important, something vital for your soul’s work here, something worthy of you. … The degree of resistance … is probably proportionate to the amount of power waiting to be unleashed and the satisfaction to be experienced once the ‘no’ breaks through to ‘yes’ and the call is followed.”

~ Gregg Levoy

 The Hero’s Journey, when completed, is nothing short of transformational. The ego is right to fear it, for comfort and security are going to be set aside for exploration and the chance of personal growth and deep realization. There are any number of places along the way where you might choose to leave the pathway, the most critical being with the first step, The Call. Fear is the edge of your known reality, so taking leave of that reality is going to be scary and disturbing, even terrifying.

“In becoming a hero or heroine, we undertake the extraordinary task of dying to our current, local selves and being reborn to our eternal selves. And then we continue to travel deeper still until we reach the eternal place of sourcing and resourcing.
“There are two great works for heroes and heroines to perform. The first is to withdraw from everyday life and open ourselves to the inner creative life through which lie our only means of reaching the Source. The second work is to return to everyday life, carrying the knowledge we have gained in the depths and putting it to use to redeem time and society.”

~ Jean Houston

 

When we open to the journey, we align with the forces – the gods – seeking to drive us forward in our development. Our soul wants to experience the fullness of life, to be fulfilled in terms of experience and meaning in our lives. It is this inner urge which calls forth the Hero’s Journey, often unconsciously until the moment that The Call comes to our awareness. The motif of the journey will constantly arise in your life – in fact, the trajectory of your entire life can be seen as a Hero’s Journey. When we come into awareness and alignment with the dynamics of this motif, our pathways to self-development open to us. Saying “YES” begins the journey.

In Part 2, we will explore the second major leg of the journey – The Wasteland – Challenges & Temptations.

“Furthermore, we have not even to risk the adventure alone; for the heroes of all time have gone before us, the labyrinth is fully known; we have only to follow the thread of the hero-path.
And where we had thought to find an abomination, we shall find a god; where we had thought to slay another, we shall slay ourselves; where we had thought to travel outward, we shall come to the center of our own existence; where we had thought to be alone, we shall be with all the world.” 

~ Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

heros-journey girl

As always, your comments are welcomed. Feel free to share this post with others who may be interested.

 

Copyright – Jim Lockard 2019

THIS IS NOT A TEST: BECOMING A SPIRITUAL ADULT

“The universe is never testing you, it’s simply giving you an opportunity to practice all that you say you are.”

~ Maryam Hasnaa

The United States and much of the western (developed) world is in the midst of a temper tantrum. The last two times there were big temper tantrums, we had World Wars I&II, so this is serious business. There is a backlash from many who have been left behind by the increasingly rapid rate of cultural change unfolding across humanity. It is not all that surprising for those who are centered lower on the spiral to be reacting in an immature fashion, but we also have many centered higher on the spiral who are also behaving badly.

VMEMEs Simplified

The temper tantrum of the present has been elected into governments across the west, and more mature voices have been loudly criticized. Social media provides a platform for much of this behavior – the treatment of Senator John McCain and his family as he nears death is a good example. Immature and disdainful comments come from across social media and within the White House and no one there tries to silence them. We are institutionalizing immaturity.

To a significant degree this trend in our politics comes as an angry backlash to two things: the failure of political leaders to affect either the rapid rate of change or to find ways for those who do not adapt to that change to feel better about themselves (both impossible tasks); and, more pointedly, the clear disdain shown by many higher on the spiral for those who are centered at lower levels (“Deplorables” anyone?). When immaturity reigns across the spectrum, we cannot fulfill our potential. Maturity is staying balanced, focused, and, above all, compassionate despite the dissonance around you.

“What was overwhelming to the child can be borne by the adult if he or she has grown in consciousness.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

A critically important part of the process of learning and applying New Thought principles in one’s life is the realization of a more spiritually mature self. As Cindy Wigglesworth (LINK) and others have shown, spiritual maturity is built upon emotional maturity. Both are essential to heal human systems, whether at the national political level or at the spiritual community level.

SQ21 Intelligences Pyramid

From DEEPCHANGE.com

Spiritual maturity reveals itself at each developmental (spiral) level, but always includes a capacity for kindness and an acceptance of ambiguity. As James Hollis says:

“The test of a psychologically mature person, and therefore spiritually mature, will be found in his or her capacity to handle what one might call the Triple A’s: anxiety, ambiguity and ambivalence.”

~ James Hollis

This “test” is not an exam from the universe – it is simply the out-picturing of one’s consciousness – we are either in the range of spiritual maturity or we have not yet reached it. A spiritually mature person can face the realities of being human, which include anxiety, ambiguity, and ambivalence, while staying in balance. Perhaps spiritual maturity/intelligence is in part the capacity to experience sadness without turning it into resentment.

We are not, by ourselves, going to heal humanity or fix the world – we can, however, learn how to live in this world in a spiritually mature way and by doing that, ripples of influence are generated and added to the overall consciousness of humanity. We can become positive influencers by cultivating a presence of love, kindness, compassion, and personal accountability.

“If you’re looking at the world and not grieving…then you’re not Conscious. But if you’re looking at the world and not rejoicing in the miraculous possibilities for healing it…then you’re Spiritually Immature.”

~ Marianne Williamson

compassionate-heart-cloud

The spiritually mature person does not see life as a test, nor the world as a classroom, nor Spirit as some divine test proctor. Our lives are our reality, and we are designed to naturally learn and grow toward a fuller realization of our human capacities. These capacities are significant, and it takes a level of maturity to govern and express them with wisdom and compassion. New Thought principles are the best guides I have ever found for this journey of life, but we must practice them in increasingly expansive ways, for we are expansive beings. Our potential for growth is unending.

We are at choice in every moment – including every moment watching the news or scrolling through our social media feeds. How to receive information and how to respond are both choices which require some workvisualizing, affirming, meditating – to create our consciousness of being from which our reaction come. I want my reactions to be from the highest level of emotional and spiritual maturity which I can manage. Don’t you?

The only choice we have as we mature
is how we inhabit our vulnerability,
how we become larger and more courageous
and more compassionate
through our intimacy with disappearance.

~ David Whyte

Beautiful Beginnings

Until we can look upon our fellow humans (and ourselves) through eyes of love, compassion, and acceptance, we are not spiritually mature. If we make them “other” we lose our awareness of connection, and with it, our capacity for compassion. Seeing oneness means being exposed to sadness, but also to a mature version of hope – one which resonates heart to heart and mind to mind.

I am reflected in you and you in me. We share a universe which is beyond our capacity to know fully. May we bring the best of ourselves to each interaction, to every thought, action, and reaction. May Peace prevail on earth. #TheBelovedCommunity

‎”You are a child of innocence, born to wonder all your days. Do not believe it to be a gift that you lost somewhere along the way, as if the hurts you have done or that were done to you could steal its light from the center of your soul. Innocence is not the absence of pain, but the ability to face truth as an adult while still seeing with the eyes of a child. Innocence is hope. It is vision. It is love. God grant that each of us, for all the darkness we have endured, will always have the grace of innocence: the belief that what is to come will be better than what has been.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston 

Your comments are appreciated. Thank you for reading. If you know of someone else who may find value in this post, or others on this blog, please feel free to share it with them.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

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

 

 

TOWARD A NEW POLITICAL PARADIGM – OUR HERO’S JOURNEY, PART 1

“A new world is upon you and all peoples of the earth. A different tomorrow awaits.

Nothing is going to be the way it was before.

Not your finances, not your politics, not your work life, not your
relationships, not the way you experience your spirituality
— all of it is changing…and is going to continue to change.

The only question remaining: Will you be part author of those continuing changes, or merely one who is impacted by them?”

~ Neal Donald Walsh

We are being carried forward by tectonic cultural evolutionary dynamics, leaving old systems and solutions behind and needing to evolve and adapt so that we might create new systems and solutions for a newly emerging world. As we are seeing across the globe, the Star Trek admonition, “Resistance is futile,” is being experienced by those who cannot or will not adapt to changing Life Conditions. We are being called, in other words, into heroic action – where we may resist change but must accept change and adapt.

“Heroes take journeys, confront dragons, and discover the treasure of their true selves.”

~ Carol Pearson

 

Poster - Campbell Quote - Hero Journey

As we move through these times, it is increasingly clear that our current political models based on competition, conflict, and persuasion are increasingly corrupt and obsolete. We need new models, a new paradigm of how we govern ourselves. It is important that we see this and act to further its emergence, or we will drown in obsolete values systems and practices which are not sufficient to take on the complex challenges of our time. The time for using violence and the threat of violence to get our way is past its sell-by date. The time for seeing ourselves in competition with others (people, companies, nations) is past its sell-by date. The time for persuading others via marketing to mindlessly consume what they do not need as a basis for our economy is not only past its sell-by date, it is harmful and not sustainable. We are called to a new paradigm.

“There is no term in our culture for our infection by violence. There is no ‘violence-ism’ parallel to racism, anti-Semitism, sexism etc. Neither can there be. Because violence is at the source of them all. As Girard says, it is humanly generative. It’s the working of generative violence that bears its ill fruit in an ‘ism.’ Until we realize this we will not understand that our whole culture is in the grip of a ‘constitutional’ crisis of violence itself. And only an intention to deal with this root crisis, via reconciliation, peace-making, a program of disarmament, a politics that lifts up the poor, only this can make headway in our current situation.”

~ Anthony Bartlett

Peace - world

We must generate peace. We must find our authentic identity is Spirit and bring it forth, transforming our fears into empowerment and compassion. We must make sustainable living a priority – economically and politically. The times demand emotionally healthy, well-informed citizens working toward the creation of The Beloved Community – where resources are allocated fairly and there are no rewards for hoarding wealth or anything else. We must move beyond our concepts of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, tribe, etc. and unite in the recognition that we are truly interdependent in our relationship with the earth and with one another. There is no other sustainable choice.

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

~ Zadie Smith

The meaning that we in New Thought bring to our lives is informed by our relationship in an Infinite Intelligence, or Spirit. This makes it natural for us to see compassion as a high functioning state for human beings. We can be for something and against nothing, as Ernest Holmes called us to do – but ONLY when we have done our spiritual practices and developed a high level of emotional and spiritual intelligence, so we are no longer drawn into drama, anger, or fear. And we are no longer concerned about whether others support us in our actions and beliefs. Some will, some will not.

Poster - Uncertainty

Also, we learn to live with the uncertainty of a near-term future for which there are no established maps. We must co-create it as we go, and this means that we must be at our best so that our mental energy is directed toward a positive and progressive expression of humanity. Along our path, there will be things which need to be hospiced, and we must recognize that there is a grieving process involved.

“Do we have the courage to hold the grief that comes with the end of a story? You can only hold the beginning if you are prepared to also hold the grief for what is over, otherwise a certain maturity is lacking. At this time, we are called upon to recognize the bigger story—which is not the story of supermarkets, not the story of politicians, not even the story of religious fanatics—but the story of the earth at this time.”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

As the quote at the top of the post by Neal Donald Walsh says, “Nothing is going to be the way it was before,” and we must be prepared for that eventuality, which, in fact, is already upon us. Change is uneven, both in time and space, and elements of the new are already manifest, while others have yet to emerge. The new world is coming at us from all directions very quickly. We do not have the luxury of wallowing in nostalgia or refusing this call to our heroic selves.

Finding Joe

“In becoming a hero or heroine, we undertake the extraordinary task of dying to our current, local selves and being reborn to our eternal selves. And then we continue to travel deeper still until we reach the eternal place of sourcing and resourcing. There are two great works for heroes and heroines to perform. The first is to withdraw from everyday life and open ourselves to the inner creative life through which lie our only means of reaching the Source. The second work is to return to everyday life, carrying the knowledge we have gained in the depths and putting it to use to redeem time and society.”

~ Jean Houston

In Part 2, I will explore more about the Hero’s Journey as it relates to a new paradigm for politics. As always, your comments are welcomed!

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard