SPIRAL AWARENESS IS IMPORTANT WHEN ENCOURAGING DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION – PART 3

“If one were to crystallize twentieth-century psychology into a single problem, it would be the problem of fear in the face of overwhelming evolutionary forces in humanity as a whole. At the end of the century we thought we were past that problem. We are now in the thick of it.”

~ John Campbell on Twitter

In Part 1 (LINK) and Part 2 (LINK) of this series, I have laid out some of the issues to be considered when planning and implementing programs designed to encourage greater diversity and inclusion in spiritual communities and other organizations. Using the Spiral Dynamics™ Model, one can see how different evolutionary values systems (vMEMEs) give meaning to terms such as “diversity,” “inclusion,” “racism,” and “white privilege.” Thee is also the issue of complexity of thinking at the different values systems. When we fail to see the presence of these values systems, we either make them wrong, present issues in highly complex ways, or ignore them entirely. This lack of “spiral awareness” means that many well-intentioned programs fail to be compassionate and to achieve the desired results.

VMEMEs Simplified

The Values Systems (vMEMEs) of the Spiral Dynamics Model

It can be quite challenging from any point on the spiral to convey your values in such a way as they are understood by those centered at different levels. And, the “circular argument” (if you disagree with me/us it proves my/our point) is a sign that absolutism has entered the picture, which is unlikely to result in understanding or collaboration. While the concept of white privilege or straight while male privilege makes perfect sense to someone centered at the Green level of existence, it is very likely given a different meaning at other levels on the spiral. The result is that you think you are communicating one thing, but something else is being heard.

“Drawing a ‘privileged’ individual’s attention to the discrimination issue might be valuable (more awareness is better) but pushing them into the ‘perpetrator’ role (which personalized discussions of privilege do) rather than directly asking them to step up to help those disadvantaged is more likely to backfire and polarize potential allies than it is to solve the problem.”

~ Kylie Stedman 

What is needed to ensure the highest level of success in programs intending to encourage greater diversity and inclusion, or to raise awareness of racism and sexism, include the following:

  1. Spiral Awareness – a recognition that different values systems exist so meaning making is not uniform.
  2. A focus on desired behaviors – rather than on labels which will be interpreted differently. For example: saying that “white privilege” is a given, for example, will not be received well by white people* who are not centered at the Green level of existence. Since they are the target audience for the program, alienating them means less likelihood of a successful program.
  3. Sharing stories – have representatives of all groups in the community share their stories, which may be of oppression or the ignorance of oppression. There is nothing more powerful than hearing from people you know and can relate to.
  4. Cast a Vision – programs including a sense of vision for what is possible are very powerful. This process can be participatory as well, thus growing a vision which is shared by as many participants as possible.
  5. Provide counseling – some people are going to need assistance to process strong feelings which will arise during programs such as this. Consideration should be given to how to best provide counseling to those who need it.
  6. Understand: Not Everyone Will Get It – it is important to realize that a person may be open, arrested, or closed at any level on the spiral. Some will not be willing to expand their sense of reality to include the values being presented. This is to be expected.

Poster - Change is Good - You Go First

Cultural change requires time plus a deep understanding of the values systems present. It also requires an understanding of change itself; change is usually gradual with occasional leaps forward or setbacks, and often uneven. There needs to be proper support through the change process, especially for those with natural aversions to change (LINK) and for those for whom a particular change does not seem like a good idea.

Leadership has to be onboard with the change and has to model the desired behaviors in ways that everyone can see. Everyone’s value system must be acknowledged and approached in appropriate ways. This requires a lot from leaders and program managers, but the alternative is another program with little to no impact.

“An elemental law of psychology confirms that what is not faced in the developmental tasks of the parent will be visited upon the child. So it is true that what is not faced by corporate or collective leadership will be carried as a problem by the employees or members.”

~ James Hollis

Beautiful Beginnings

As always, your comments are appreciated in the section below. Please consider following this blog if you are not already doing so (Click on the FOLLOW button), and feel free to share with your friends.

*People of Color centered in other values systems may understand white privilege differently than white people, however, they will still see it differently at each values system on the spiral.

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

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

 

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

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

~ Mahatma Gandhi

diversity

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

Poster - Diversity Inclusion

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

VMEMEs Simplified

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

“What I am proposing is that the psychology of the mature human being is an unfolding, emergent, oscillating, spiraling process, marked by progressive subordination of old, lower-order behavior systems to new, higher-order systems as man’s existential problems change.”

~ Clare Graves, originator of Spiral Dynamics

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

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

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

~ Dr. Howard Thurman

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

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

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

~ Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

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

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

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

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

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

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

 

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

LIVING SYSTEMS SEEK WHOLENESS THROUGH HEALING

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

~ Robert A. Johnson

“Carl Jung saw that the human psyche strives always toward wholeness, strives to become more conscious. The unconscious mind seeks to move its contents up to the level of consciousness, where they can be actualized and assimilated into more complete conscious personality.”

~ Robert A. Johnson

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

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

~ Emma Jung in “The Holy Grail”

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

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

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

~ Stanislav Grof, Shift Magazine, June-August 2004

Beautiful Nautilus

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

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

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

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

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

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

~ Rachel Naomi Remen

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

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

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

 

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

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

 

 

ENGAGING THE FUTURE OF NEW THOUGHT SPIRITUALITY

“Nothing ages so quickly as yesterday’s vision of the future.” 

~ Richard Corliss

Ultimately, our future is always out of reach. We are eternally in the present moment, and it is the only place from which we can act. This basic truth powerfully reveals to us our place in the order of things. We are powerful in the now, and our future is determined by what we do in that now moment.

“We are, perhaps uniquely among the earth’s creatures, the worrying animal. We worry away our lives, fearing the future, discontent with the present, unable to take in the idea of dying, unable to sit still.”

~ Lewis Thomas

new-thought-collage

What we call the New Thought Movement, including all its organizations and spiritual communities, is really an extension of each of us living in our now moments where we build consciousness which creates our experience of the future. The social structures of our movement are projections of the combined consciousness of everyone within them. We collectively co-create our local communities, our organizations, and our movement in each unfolding now moment. So, the question is, what is the content, the substance and the emotions, of those thoughts?

“Stop looking at your future through your present problems.”

~ Raymond Charles Barker

The leaders of any level of our social structures may say this or that about who we are and what is possible, but it is how the body of each level responds in our minds that is the determining factor in what is created. We collectively create a consciousness of success or failure, thriving or struggling, compassion or judgment. We may be influenced by leaders or teachers or books we read, but ultimately, we make up our minds and generate our guiding consciousness.

“So, transform yourself first…Because you are young and have dreams and want to do something meaningful, that in itself, makes  you our future and our hope. Keep expanding your horizon, decolonize your mind, and cross borders.”

~ Yuri Kochiyama 

Beautiful Stone Altar

This is not to minimize the need for good leaders and teachers – it is only to acknowledge the reality of the situation. None of us can abdicate accountability for our experience of life. We take what we experience and give it meaning and it becomes our truth – whether it is factual or not. Once we believe something, we automatically act as if it were true, often to our detriment. False beliefs do great harm. Unless we consciously question our beliefs and do the work to discover truth, we are subject to all kinds of false beliefs. Our present times call for an expanded openness. I am filled with Divine Discontent aren’t you?

“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

We are called to a different way of being. The signs of the present moment are telling us that our old ways of thinking and being are inadequate to the emerging future. We in New Thought are being challenged to use our spiritual technologies more rigorously to create a consciousness of compassion, love, empowerment, and success which is beyond what we have seen before. We are called to an evolutionary response to self-transforamtion and to the transformation of our movement. How will we respond?

“This is the true joy of life — that being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one. That being a force of nature, instead of a feverish, selfish little clod of ailments and grievances complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy. I am of the opinion that life belongs to the whole community and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can.  I want to be thoroughly used up when I die.  For the harder I work the more I live.  I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no brief candle to me.  It’s sort of a splendid torch which I’ve got to hold up for the moment and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.” 

~ George Bernard Shaw

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

THRIVING SKILL: POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 2

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

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

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

Polarity Management 9

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Define the issue.

  2. Include key stakeholders.

  3. Build the polarity map.

  4. Understand how polarities work.

  5. Assess realities with this polarity.

  6. Determine action steps and early warnings.

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

Polarity Management 10

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

Beautiful Flower - Water Lilly

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

~ Anaïs Nin

Your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

THRIVING SKILL: MASTERING POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 1

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

~ Unknown

Complex Problem

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

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

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

~ C.G. Jung

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarity Management 5.png

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

Polarity Management 6

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

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

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarities Statement

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

Your comments are always welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

THRIVING SKILL: BUILDING AND SUSTAINING COMMUNITY

“Driven by the forces of love, the fragments of the world seek each other so that the world may come into being. Love alone is capable of uniting living beings in such a way as to complete and fulfill them, for it alone takes them and joins them by what is deepest in themselves.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

We live in evolutionary times. I mean that in the sense that there are dynamics at work in human culture and societies which are driving change and, as a result, human development, at increasing speed. This has never happened at this pace in human history, so we have no direct experience from which to approach the challenges which have arisen thus far, and which will continue to arise. We are in uncharted territory in many respects.

Poster - Beloved

These times require evolutionary thinking:

“I live on Earth at present, and I don’t know what I am. I know that I am not a category. I am not a thing – a noun. I seem to be a verb, an evolutionary process…”

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

The very meaning of what it is to be human is shifting as our relationships with technologies change our very biology, not to mention our psychology. Whereas we have traditionally needed religion and spirituality to guide us through a world which was static or slowly changing, we now need it to help guide us into a rapidly emerging future no one can predict. Change is the new normal, and whether we like it or not, spiritual community must be more and more about how to live in a changing world – and how to thrive in doing so.

What we have to offer as spiritual community is COMMUNITY – the ability to connect with other people for a variety of purposes which include mutual love and support and the provision of spiritual philosophies and tools to enable our members to live in the world that is unfolding. Through healthy spiritual community, one finds loving support, positive role models, and the expression of the compassionate heart. We are called into New Thought communities because we seek a greater vision of what is possible, because something within us is ready to be called forth into expression.

“There is almost a sensual longing for communion with others who have a large vision. The immense fulfillment of the friendship between those engaged in furthering the evolution of consciousness has a quality impossible to describe.”

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

Building and maintaining healthy spiritual community requires evolutionary leadership and a willing and engaged followership – those who are open to learning and to contributing to the learning of others with humility, kindness, and love. To be evolutionary is to encourage the expression of current potential and to invite the new into being. Such a community does not seek refuge from the world around it – it seeks to enable its members to thrive in that world and to contribute to it in positive ways.

“Particular to an evolutionary worldview we open to and exemplify what Teilhard de Chardin called ‘zest’ for the adventure of becoming.”

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

There are many ways to create community, from fostering small groups to creating long-term programs of learning, to practicing engaged spirituality in the larger community. The process of becoming the highest version of the potential within your community is ideally an organic one – it emerges from those present, then morphs over time as developmental growth occurs and as newcomers arrive and people depart. In other words, community tends to thrive when it is an inside-out process.

“I must search for the cause and not blame the effect.”

 ~ C.G. Jung

We often see a spiritual community grow rapidly and attract all the elements needed to thrive. Then, other spiritual communities ask the leadership of the thriving community to teach them how it is done. Books are written, classes are taught, speeches are given, consulting is offered – all about how this spiritual community came to thrive. Rarely, however, do we see the recipients of all this come to thrive themselves. The reason? Too often, we confuse effect for cause. It is not that there is not value in what is being presented, there is. The issue is that thriving comes via emergence, not via external input.

I believe that there are things spiritual leaders need to learn. But trying to learn how another spiritual community came to thrive via its own organic process is like trying to bail water with a tennis racquet. It is an attempt to reverse-engineer a naturally inside-out process into an outside-in process.

What spiritual leaders need to learn are the basic knowledge/skills/attitudes (KSA’s) to function in two areas: 1. The basic operations of spiritual community (or whatever form the ministry takes); 2. An awareness of models, practices, and KSA’s to lead a series of organic processes to develop thriving community in unique ways. Each group of people will create community in a different way. The process of developing thriving spiritual community will be unique to each group of people and the leadership present.

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

~ Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

When I work with leadership teams or coach individual ministers, presenting mostly concepts from #2 above, I am usually asked about the HOW – how do I/we do this? We often want a cookbook-style recipe for success. When you look around at thriving spiritual communities, or at spiritual leaders whom you admire, do you see people who followed recipes? No – you see people who somehow created an atmosphere in which thriving spiritual community could emerge. Of course, these spiritual leaders have skills – but one critical skill they have, which they may not fully understand themselves, is how to invite emergence and let it unfold organically.

We create #TheBelovedCommunity when we align ourselves with the evolutionary process of emergence. The old ways are no longer our ways, and we should shed them like the snake sheds her skin – naturally. In adapting to the ongoing evolutionary processes which carry us forward, we become one with the radical nature of change. In doing this, we thrive in the unfolding newness. Change is no longer abrasive, we smoothly ride the crest of the waves toward creating spiritual communities which thrive.

“The Beloved Community is a collection of individuals who are learning how to love themselves, one another, and the universe. Regardless what name we give this idea, it is the same thing – the creation of the experience of belonging and experiencing the wonders of who we are individually and collectively. It is a place where purpose and passion meet, where we practice being the person we desire to be and support others in that effort. The Beloved Community is a strong attractor to those who seek spiritual realization. It is not a place of struggle but of continual progress toward a vision. That progress may have its ups and downs, but there is a sense of forward motion and of being involved in something vital.”

~ Jim Lockard, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY

Your Comments are appreciated! Feel free to share this blog as you see fit. Thank you!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard