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/ 

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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.

BE ENCOURAGED. IT’S CONSCIOUSNESS – ALL OF IT.

“Consciousness is a singular, the plural of which is unknown.”

~ Erwin Schrödinger

So, as far as I understand it, here is how it works:

Whenever I enter something – a pattern of thought, a room, a situation, a relationship, an agreement, a voyage, anything – I bring my consciousness of the moment. That consciousness determines my experience of what I am entering; it determines my behaviors, helps to co-create whatever it is I am entering before I enter it, and what it will change into while I am there and after I leave. It also determines whether and how I am changed in the process.

Beautiful Prayer Flags

The same consciousness is also in everyone and everything associated with what I enter, and through each individual involved, the Universal Consciousness interacts with itself. So, I am a bit player, albeit an important one, in a much larger theater which is unfolding. Universal Consciousness, knowing itself and discovering itself as it changes, is really all that is happening in this universe. My role (and yours) is to consciously and unconsciously direct that consciousness from potential into actuality by individualizing it within our unique identities. I do this individually in my own life and collectively in my sphere of influence as I live. Quantum physics tells me my sphere of influence (and yours) touches every particle in the universe and beyond to any other universes which may exist.

“As Jung argues in ‘Answer to Job,’ human self-reflective awareness might be seen as the medium through which God becomes conscious – with the human ego serving as the divine organ of self-reflective consciousness.”

~ Keiron le Grice

Beautiful Nautilus

I like to get back to basics in December as I prepare myself mentally and emotionally for a New Year. I like to think about the metaphysical creative process and how it works by means of me to create my own life experience and to influence the experience of others. This thinking helps me to see the value in a regular spiritual practice to bring my psychological process into focus toward positive experiences, outcomes, and contributions. Of course, you can do this work at any time of the year, and I recommend that you do it continuously.

Now, I know that thinking is only the beginning, not the end of what I need to do. I must think in the most constructive way possible, but also be doing deeper work to reveal the limited and destructive aspects buried within my unconscious, for they will continually show up in ways that negatively affect me. This means shadow work, delving into my discomfort to bring light to it and to reintegrate what I have rejected about myself earlier in life into a healthy adult self-concept. For I realize today that my self-concept directs the consciousness expressing as me in whatever I enter into.

Often, my repressed energies deal with my own body, my sexuality, my identity. We are taught to separate our connection to sensuality and put it out of our socially approved range of experiences. We compartmentalize, and the repressed energies continue to express through the “back channels” of our psyche.

“Don´t condemn sensuality. It has been condemned by the whole world, and because of their condemnation, the energy that can flower in sensuality moves into perversions, jealousy, anger, hatred — a kind of life which is dry, with no juice. Sensuousness is one of the greatest blessings to humanity. It is your sensitivity, it is your consciousness. Consciousness filtering through the body is what sensuousness is.”

~ Osho

Beautiful Baby 5 - feet.jpg

My expression of life is limited to the degree that my primal energies have been caged rather than harnessed; they have been imprisoned rather than disciplined. When this is so, they rebel in their desire to be a part of the expression of a healthy being and emerge as destructive behaviors, guilt, and shame. Deep inner work and daily spiritual practices are the path to returning these inner energies to a healthy state of expression.

“The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline. . .. That is real freedom. That is being educated and understanding how to think. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the rat race, the constant gnawing sense of having had, and lost, some infinite thing.”

~ David Foster Wallace

Spiritual Mind Treatment, or affirmative prayer, is a form of affirmation and visualization to train my mind in ways leading to the constructive expression of the complete array of primal energies within me. For all of these energies are creative and are essential in living a fulfilled human life. I cannot contribute the fullness of my potential to others unless I am realizing that fullness in my own life experience.

We are, of course, aided in this process by a universe which unerringly cooperates to meet our need for positive development. This is so because, as I noted earlier, all consciousness, including my individualized consciousness is part of the same thing. Our experience of our own different inner manifestations of consciousness and the mingling with the expressions of others is Universal Consciousness knowing and interacting with itself. Because this is so, we are continually in a place of opportunity to realize what we need to do to move toward an enlightened way of being – meaning a consciousness which is individualized as a high self-concept. Natasha Dern puts it beautifully in this quote:

“So, what is enlightenment? How about coming down from that mountain and putting your unity consciousness to the test amidst mortgage payments and credit card debt, divorce lawyers and aging parents, nasty bosses and health problems, wars and poverty? Such conditions, as the alchemist knows, burns away the dross to reveal who we are not. Yes, in the midst of the madness we awaken, grow comfortable with our dualistic nature and develop mystical stamina so that we can handle our sobriety. Illusions are like drugs and enlightenment is like rehab.”

~ Natasha Dern

Caterpillar - Image of Butterfly

As individuals, being aspects of a larger expression of Universal Consciousness, we seek both unification and healing so as to return to a sense of Oneness with our true nature – our God Nature. We are assisted by the unfolding an expressing universe and have everything we need to make our life journey one that leads us toward greater and greater fulfillment. Our struggles are part of this process – it is all the unfolding of consciousness. There is nothing else happening. I cannot think of a more encouraging way of seeing our lives.

“We are ever renewed by the passage of the Divine light through our consciousness.”

~ Ernest Holmes

HAVE A WONDERFUL 2019 –

MAY YOUR LIFE BE FULFILLED.

 

As always, your comments are appreciated. Please share this post with those you think might find it of value.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

WHEN SPIRITUAL BYPASS BECOMES SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE, PART 2

“Racism and spiritual bypassing are harmful in and of themselves, and their combination compounds the harm. Add gaslighting (LINK), and you’ve got an exponentially toxic brew. In this case, the manipulative elements and dizzying doublespeak were staggering. There were acknowledgements that racism had in fact occurred, followed by denials that it did, round and round. There were fauxpologies followed by defending, round and round. There were expressions of caring for those who had been hurt, immediately followed by not-so-subtle digs at them, round and round.”

~ Camille Williams,

When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting (LINK)

GASLIGHT - American Poster 6

The term GASLIGHTING comes from this film.

In Part 1 of this series (LINK), we explored the phenomenon of spiritual bypassing and its effect on individuals and groups. I referenced the article by Robert Augustus Masters, PhDSpiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag (LINK). I encourage you to read Part 1 and the Masters’ article before reading this post, which follows up on ideas already presented.

The focus of my book, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY (LINK), and of much of this blog, is to promote healthy spiritual leadership in New Thought (and other) spiritual communities, in part by writing about the difficult, often overlooked areas which deeply affect how spiritual leaders operate, and how followers perceive leadership. For a spiritual community to be in alignment with the creation of #TheBelovedCommunity, it must have both healthy leadership and healthy followership.

The second article referenced in Part 1 is a powerful one by Camille Williams, a blogger and essayist. In When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting (LINK), she takes a dive into some of the most difficult places in spiritual communityracism and Gaslighting, as affected by spiritual bypassing. Her article focuses on an online exchange on spirituality, but one can easily see the same dynamics in a spiritual community of any denomination. Note that all of these negative issues arise from a lack of emotional and spiritual intelligence in one or more of the parties involved. Healing is needed and involves deep personal work, both individually and within the community.

“Willingness to push past our discomfort in these situations (spiritual bypassing & racism) is literally the rock bottom least of our responsibilities, considering the risks, abuses and indignities black and brown people and other marginalized groups live with on a daily basis. I think it helps to give some thought beforehand to different ways we might respond, so that when it happens we can think on our feet and not freeze in deer-in-the-headlights fashion.”

~ Camille Williams

When you read Ms. Williams article, note the many resources at the bottom. She also writes:

“If spirituality is an important part of your life (as it is for me), and/or if you place a high value on positive thinking, and especially if you’re a Law of Attraction enthusiast, please read about spiritual bypassing beyond the paragraph definition. . .. We need to understand the nature of this thing so we can actively avoid it, especially if the thing being bypassed, denied or oversimplified is the reality of systemic oppression and how it impacts people from marginalized groups. Side benefit: understanding this can help us deal with everything else in our own lives more skillfully, too”

~ Camille Williams

Those of us in New Thought can be particularly susceptible to spiritual bypassing for a few reasons.

  1. Our emphasis on positive thinking and how our thoughts create our experience of reality can lead us to fail to recognize unhealthy behaviors and attitudes. It’s easy to live in denial by saying things like “It’s ALL Good!
  2. Our unconscious biases can easily overlook the experience of those outside our race, gender, or class. Privilege exists in the unconscious and often manifests in New Thought as a failure to take into consideration anything beyond one’s thoughts as cause to their experience. Instead of, or in addition to, the common question, “What about a baby born with a disease?” we might also ask, “What about someone born as an oppressed person, or into a subculture with no access to New Thought principles?” To fail to consider this is to diminish the experience of many people, triggering feelings of guilt and shame and perhaps “otherness.” It might help to explain why New Thought is less diverse than it could be.
  3. In New Thought curricula (as far as I have experienced) we do not teach opposing points of view, except perhaps to denigrate them. A prescient post by Harriet Hawkins speaks to this (LINK). Unlike, say, the Jesuits, we are not taught to be critical thinkers regarding our teaching(s) as they relate to other worldviews. This can lead us to become unquestioning and refuse to see the limits of some aspects of our philosophy.
  4. We want everyone to feel good all the time, so we often refuse to acknowledge issues and experiences which do not reflect that desire. We tend to have a high tolerance for dysfunction and a low tolerance for ambivalence and we tend to want to see all worldviews as equally valid, even when there is evidence to the contrary.

None of this is to say that all spiritual bypassing leads to serious dysfunction, although it is produced by dysfunction. But, serious dysfunction will rarely occur in an atmosphere of spiritual authenticity. The reasons above make many of us more open to spiritual bypassing to avoid what is unpleasant or difficult. It can also reinforce our unconscious biases, leading to behaviors which marginalize othersracism, sexism, or “otherness.” These are very often major factors when spiritual communities go into crisis or decline.

“All great spirituality is about what we do with our pain. If we do not transform our pain, we will transmit it to those around us.”

~ Richard Rohr

 

“One way of measuring ego-strength and maturity of personality is to assess a person’s capacity to tolerate ambivalence. This capacity is closely related to the ability to feel empathy. It is all about tolerating otherness.”

~ Heidi M. Kolb

All of this comes together as a self-perpetuating system of unconscious behaviors, limiting our ability to really see ourselves and others, to feel empathy and express compassion, to be deeply present for others in our spiritual community and elsewhere.

SHADOW – PROJECTION – DENIAL – SPIRITUAL BYPASSING – NEED FOR CERTAINTY – EXCLUSION OF OTHERS – DENIAL – SHADOW – PROJECTION – DENIAL . . .  THE CYCLE CONTINUES.

Until we interrupt it.

While this must begin within each person, it is also a systemic issue – our culture is weighted with limited thinking and spiritual bypassing. It is time to face this and begin the process of leaving this particular set of limitations behind us. We will never be perfect at this, but we will get better at it. We know that we have no fear of a greater Truth being revealed – we welcome the healing potential of spiritual disruption!

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 referred to an article by Robert Augustus Masters, and to several quotes from that article in Part 1 of this series 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

HOW WE RECOGNIZE AND HEAL SHAME

“The more I force myself to perfect my ideal image of myself, the more overflowing toilet bowls I’m going to have in my dreams.”

~ Marion Woodman

Shame is messy. It leads to all sorts of bad behaviors, keeping of secrets, hiding and lies, and more. More importantly, it keeps one from expressing their true selves – the loving genius that it unique to each of us.

Shame is damaging. It leads to withdrawal of our talents and skills, and it can also lead to lashing out at others from our sense of woundedness.

Shame is unnecessary. When we hold to our sense of connection to Source and to our own sense of worth which flows from that connection, we avoid shame and keep ourselves available for the good of life.

I define shame as a state of being dominated by the ongoing acceptance of guilt and inadequacy. We reside in shame when we cannot see ourselves as worthy and effective in the world. Or when we have been betrayed by someone or something and we dwell in that betrayal as a kind of personal identity – “maybe I deserved it.”

We become “the person who has been betrayed” and therefore feel unworthy. It can be quite dramatic, but it is also quite unnecessary.

2015-03-05-22-40-27

Drama is often the result of shameful feelings, but it is neither loving nor wise; and it distracts us from the healing process.

“Healing depends on listening with the inner ear – stopping the incessant blather, and listening. Fear keeps us chattering – fear that wells up from the past, fear of blurting out what we really fear, fear of future repercussions. It is our very fear of the future that distorts the now that could lead to a different future if we dared to be whole in the present.”

~ Marion Woodman

Shame can also arise when we compare ourselves to others (which is, of course, a kind of projection). For example, a spiritual leader who is struggling personally and professionally will see another whose spiritual community appears to be thriving and may feel shame. Or a New Thought student may hear of the wonderful demonstrations of her classmates and feel shame at her lack of demonstrations. “What is the matter with me?”

“Stop comparing where you’re at with where everyone else is. It doesn’t move you farther ahead, improve your situation, or help you find peace. It just feeds your shame, fuels your feelings of inadequacy, and ultimately, it keeps you stuck. The reality is that there is no one correct path in life. Everyone has their own unique journey.”

~ Daniell Koepke 

I did not make this Part 4 of the just-completed series WHEN THE SPIRITUAL LEADER IS TOXIC (LINK), because the concept of shame, while almost always present when a toxic spiritual leader is or has been present, is also present in many other situations. Just about everyone feels shame at one time or another. When Ernest Holmes wrote that “The world has learned enough from suffering,” he was also referring to shame. I will bring author and Jungian analyst Marion Woodman’s wisdom into this conversation.

“All escapes were cut off. I had to move into my own silence and find out who was in there.” ~ Marion Woodman

“So long as we are not in contact with our own potential, we are vulnerable to being controlled by others.” ~ Marion Woodman

“If we do not know ourselves, we cannot stand to our own truth and are, therefore, in constant danger of invasion by others.” ~ Marion Woodman

“For the perfectionist who has trained herself TO DO, simply BEING sounds like a euphemism for nothingness, or ceasing to exist.” ~ Marion Woodman

woodman

Marion Woodman

In these statements, Woodman paints a picture of the descent into shame and the problems that we face when we try to stay in balance after one of life’s severe blows. Often, following some kind of betrayal, we find ourselves racked with guilt and self-loathing – “why didn’t I see what was happening,” or “why, even after I saw what was happening, did I continue on?

When a toxic spiritual leader has been operating, these kinds of feelings are inevitable, both during his presence and afterward. Often, a new spiritual leader arrives to a spiritual community where a good number of members are in some degree dwelling in shame. They will tend to act out of that shame and make life difficult for the new leader in a number of ways. Failing to understand and even expect some degree of shame can make things very difficult for all concerned.

Healing our shame requires some degree of courage, because it is difficult to create the kind of inner self-acceptance necessary to do healing work when one is in shame. But there is always hope – always a way forward.

“Through the smallest window look well, and you can look out into the Infinite.”

~ Thomas Carlyle

We always have that small window – that niche into the wonders of who we really are. Our New Thought teachings are resplendent with this idea of an ever-present access to an Infinite Love and Intelligence. It may be difficult to see from a place of shame, but it is there and we must come to KNOW that it is there and access it and move toward a consciousness of healing.

“In general, every evil to which we do not succumb, is a benefactor.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Healing our shame requires coming to a positive self-assessment, to self-love. It means that we learn to see ourselves as worthy of love and fulfillment regardless of what has happened or what we have done. It also means arriving at that immensely healthy place where you can laugh at yourself without feeling diminished in any way, so that you can live fully without reservation and fear. It means that we forgive, ourselves and others, for whatever harm may have been done; and we make amends where that is possible.

“I want a life that sizzles and pops and makes me laugh out loud…I want to
sleep hard on clean white sheets and throw parties and eat ripe tomatoes and
read books so good they make me jump up and down, and I want my every day to make God belly laugh, glad that he gave life to someone who loves the gift.”

~ Shauna Niequist

Why? Because life should be filled with laughter, but also because there is some serious work to dohealing ourselves and humanity; good sound spiritual work. And for that, we all need to be coming from a good, solid foundation of self-love, of courage and strength, and a compassionate heart. These things do not come from dwelling in shame; we must dwell in love as much and as often as we can. We must do our daily practices and accept our own goodness and power.

“Continuing to do pioneering sacred work in a world as crazy and painful as ours without constantly grounding yourself in a sacred practice would be like running into a forest fire dressed only in a paper tutu.”

~ Marion Woodman

And whether you are called to be a healer for humanity or just a small slice of it, you will need to realize the combination of strength, grace, love, and joy that go into making an effective human being. All of the raw materials and potentialities for those things reside within you and have been an essential part of you since before time began. And you can never lose them, but you might forget them from time to time. So I urge you, my darlings, to remember – remember who and what you are. Remember that you are never defined by what you do, only by what you ARE. And you are the best of this or any other universe.

“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 

Beautiful Dance

Life without shame is a dance to be savored.

As always, your comments are welcomed.

Copyright 2016 – Jim Lockard