THOUGHTS FOR A NEW YEAR – SEEKING WHOLENESS

“Seek out that particular mental attribute which makes you feel most deeply and vitally alive, along with which comes the inner voice which says, ‘This is the real me,’ and when you have found that attitude, follow it.” 

~ William James

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“This is the moment when we either turn up the light within ourselves or move further into the darkness. Stop giving energy, time, and power to negativity. Counteract it with goodness. Notice where there is a need, then do whatever you can to help.”

~ Oprah Winfrey

Whether you call it wholeness, authenticity, or oneness, what we seek is the deep and profound connection with our souls. This is the essence of spirituality – the bringing forth of the best of ourselves, our Divine Natures.

Entering a new year is a wonderful opportunity to make the kinds of changes in your life which will lead to a deeper level of beingness. You can, of course, do this any time, but the symbolic opportunity of a new year is particularly apt. The theme is seeking – what we seek and what seeks us. Spiritual wisdom teaches us that this is an inside-out process; change begins within and seeks expression and the changed person now notices different things in the outer world. It is like putting on glasses which enable you to see more clearly. The external world has not changed, but one’s ability to perceive it more clearly changes how one relates.

The work of changing our perception is done by using our conscious mind to change belief patterns in our subconscious mind. The best way to do this is through regular, daily spiritual practices, the repetition of which generates new beliefs by altering the information stored in the brain. New neural pathways are opened over time, and our perception becomes clearer. As William Blake wrote: “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear . . . as it is, infinite.” Our spiritual practices and the guiding of our daily thoughts to be more loving and wise help us to cleanse those doors of perception.

“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

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What is unconscious is not available to us directly, but is active in our creative process, which is a blend of conscious and unconscious elements – thoughts, beliefs, emotions, etc. By working to bring more to the conscious level, we gain greater dominion over our experience. The process of bringing the unconscious to conscious awareness can be difficult and painful – much of what is unconscious is repressed aspects of ourselves, called shadow, which we deemed unacceptable at some point in our lives. When we do not do this work, we remain at the mercy of our repressed selves, which seek healing by bringing us into challenges calling for healthy expression of those repressed aspects. This cycle of projection and denial continues until we interrupt it and re-integrate those aspects consciously.

The seeking we must do is beyond the superficial, beyond just positive thinking, meditating, and contemplating. While all of those are essential, they are not sufficient to do the deep work of healing shadow. I do not believe that this deep work can be done alone, the ego is so resistant to revealing what has been repressed. We need to work with someone who has done their own deep work, a therapist perhaps, who will lovingly hold our feet to the fires of radical self-honesty. Anything less is insufficient.

This is a hero’s journey in itself, requiring a departure from the apparent safety of our denial (which is a false sense of security), and into the depths of our being. It requires that we acknowledge, own, love, and finally, integrate what we have repressed into a healthy self-concept.

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

~ Phil Cousineau

The good news is that we are supported in this work by our soul – the deepest and truest part of who we are. The soul seeks to experience the fullness of life and refuses to sit quietly by as we ignore its urgings. It does not care about propriety or the opinions and rules of others – it wants what it wants. It wants love and expression – it wants to experience the infinite.

“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

To the degree that you choose to do deep work in 2019, you will need to accept that such work is not easy and that it will affect every area of your life. Beginning with an appraisal of your regular spiritual practices – are they sufficient, are they deep enough, are they delivering what you want from them?

If you want to do such an assessment, I am providing access to a document I use with my private students: Click to download Self Assessment Authentic Self Handout 2018. You can download it and complete it, then use it to guide you toward developing a more meaningful and relevant set of spiritual practices.

“Job Description for Spiritual Seeker: Full time position available for person who strives to be mindful and aware of the deeper context of life. Must be intellectually curious, open-minded, and willing to change. Reverence for creation, personal humility, and a strong commitment to social justice will be necessary. Study, prayer, dialogue and meditative practice are expectations. Cross cultural experience important. Compassion and kindness are requirements. Starting date: now. Salary: zero. Benefits: unlimited. Apply in person to the Maker of Everything.”

~ Bishop Steven Charleston

End of Year

As always, your comments are appreciated.

And many thanks to the nearly 12,000 visitors to this blog during 2018. I am very grateful that you found value here.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

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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

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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

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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

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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

 

EMMA CURTIS HOPKINS – NEW THOUGHT PIONEER

I will be in Budapest for the next two weeks, attending and presenting (LINK) at the Integral Europe Conference 2018, so this will very likely be my last post until I return. When I do return, I will have exciting news about a collaboration I will be doing with the Association for Global New Thought (AGNT – LINK). For now, amidst all the crisis fatigue that many of us share, let’s visit a New Thought pioneer, Emma Curtis Hopkins (September 2, 1849 – April 8, 1925).

“All your affairs, as you now look at them, represent your former way of thinking. They are held together by the glue of your former ideas. Now if you withdraw that glue, what can you expect, but that your affairs will all fall to pieces to let new affairs, representing your new way of thinking establish themselves.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

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Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma Curtis Hopkins (LINK) was known as the “teacher of teachers” in New Thought, for she had connections with many, if not most of the founders of the various New Thought denominations. A former protégé of Mary Baker Eddy of Christian Science, Hopkins went out on her own and began a seminary in Chicago to teach New Thought principles and spiritual healing. She firmly believed in the power of the mind to heal any condition, and her writing clearly states that conviction. I find it helpful to revisit her work often to reacquaint myself with the strength of her consciousness.

“The world will persist in exhibiting before you what you persist in affirming the world is. ‘The man who molds the vital ethers of omnipresence by right thoughts about its bounty brings forth bountifully.’”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Overcoming fear and doubt is the key to the development of a consciousness powerful enough to manifest whatever we seek in life. What we persist in affirming (positive or negative) brings our consciousness to a state of acceptance for that thing, and we attract it into our life by the Law of Mind. There are no exceptions to this Law.

“If the Truth makes free when it is told, and we are not free, then the Truth has not been told. The Truth that the Good belongs to us is greater than the idea that we might give our time, our labor, our life, and all we are to the Good, and still never satisfy it. To tell how impossible it is for us to give enough to God breeds rebellion at existing orders. To tell that the Good asks nothing of us but to receive its substance, will rest and comfort the people.”

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

Emma was not one to affirm a victim consciousness, because she knew that such a consciousness was voluntary and, when affirmed with powerful emotion, just as creative as a consciousness of empowerment. Regardless of circumstances, she instructed her students and readers to think positive, empowering, and uplifting thoughts – no excuses!

“All realization of Good externalizes as Good.” 

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

If the Law works perfectly, and we teach that it does, then why do we often fail to trust it? If you want your car to go forward, do you not put the transmission into Drive, trusting that the car will move forward? It would be ridiculous to put it into Reverse out of a lack of trust. How is it that we often do not put the same degree of trust into the Law of Mind, which we have seen work over and over again? Can we not trust the Law of Mind to the same extent that we trust an automobile transmission? Of course we can!

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

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins

In other words, when we think or speak anything but the truth, we are wasting our time, and, quite possibly, doing damage to ourselves and others. Let us pay more attention to the teachings of Emma Curtis Hopkins and be more in tune with our Truth, activating the great Law of Mind in our favor!

Back in a couple of weeks!

As always, your comments are welcomed!

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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)

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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

 

 

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 1

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

This series speaks to the issue of spiritual maturity and deep spiritual work. The contents are not meant to offend or intimidate anyone. My intention is to speak to a deeper level of spiritual realization. In most of the world’s spiritual traditions, some teachings were kept secret from anyone not ready to receive them in a healthy way. In our modern tradition, we put warning labels on things.

You cannot hope to grow spiritually unless you are prepared to change. Those changes may come in small ways to begin with, but as you move further and further into the new, they will become more drastic and vital. Sometimes it needs a complete upheaval to bring about a new way of life. But it is amazing how soon you can get used to change as long as you have the courage and conviction that the changes which are in place are all for the very best. Let perfection always be your aim. Keep stretching. Keep reaching up to the seemingly impossible. Keep growing in wisdom and understanding and never at any time be content to remain static. There is always something new and wonderful to discover in this life, so expand your consciousness and your imagination to make room for it. Keep open and receptive so you miss nothing.”

~ Eileen Caddy

How many of us are willing to be open and receptive to such transformational change? How many are willing to go beyond mere lip-service and to do the deep spiritual and psychological work of radical self-discovery in order to experience radical self-acceptance? If you were told how much deep inner work, emotional development, psychic pain, and time would be required to achieve spiritual realization and master the important aspects of your life the first time you visited a New Thought spiritual community, would you come back a second time?

The Easter/Passover season is a good time to reflect on this question, as the deeper meaning of this time is transformation, or massive change. See my previous post on Holy Week (LINK) for more detail on this.

Cartoon - You Have to WANT to Change

While learning how to think affirmatively is an essential step in your spiritual growth, it is but one of many steps. Each of us carries shadow aspects (LINK) which we have been accumulating since our infancy, and these aspects have been repressed into our subconscious. We are not directly aware of them, but they are active in our lives – they affect our emotions, our worldviews, and our decision-making. We project these aspects onto others automatically and unconsciously. Ultimately, they form a barrier to further spiritual growth, as we develop much of our personalities in such a way as to avoid conscious awareness of our repressed selves.

Poster - Jung - Shadow

“Any serious spiritual work brings up the shadow, the rejected parts of your own psyche, which have to be faced and accepted. It’s the process of inner purification. Other spiritual paths may focus on purification through diet or yoga or good living or correcting bad habits. Our particular Sufi path has a very strong psychological element, and the purification is analogous to Jung’s ‘shadow work’ in which the rejected parts of one’s psyche come to the surface to be confronted, loved and accepted. This begins the process of transformation. As Jung said, ‘One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.’ Then he humorously added, ‘The latter process, however, is disagreeable and therefore not popular.’”

~ Llewellyn Vaughan Lee

A typical scenario can look like this: someone enters a New Thought spiritual community and learns how to think affirmatively, to visualize, to mediate. They practice these techniques and notice that the circumstances of their life improve. They continue for some time at this, taking classes, reading and so forth; and there is the benefit of being in spiritual community as well. After a year to 18 months, however, they notice that they have hit a wall in their growth – negativity seems unmoved by their efforts and spiritual growth appears to stop. What has happened is that they have used their newfound practices to attend to the aspects of their lives which were not bound by shadow aspects. But the shadow self remains untouched. Now the real work can begin.

Shadow Cartoon

The Shadow is Everything You Have Repressed About Yourself that did not fit your Idealized Self-Image

Unfortunately, this is the point where many give up, deciding that the teaching does not work. Some will leave, seeking guidance elsewhere; some will stay, but not pursue any deeper level of growth. Every spiritual community has long-term members who have not grown spiritually or psychologically since their first year or two of participation. Even more unfortunately, many New Thought spiritual leaders fail to guide their students through this inevitable stage of development. You don’t hear about this at Sunday services.

“You seem to harbor a deep negativity towards negativity, as something not to face but something to ignore.”

~ John Hogue

We get nowhere by ignoring the negativity in our lives. Likewise, we get nowhere by dwelling on the negativity in our lives. We only get somewhere when we begin the long journey toward replacing the negativity in our consciousness with something more positive. Some of this work is done at the surface level – by thinking more positively; but much of it is done by digging down deep into the psyche to root out the unconscious patterns we have developed, patterns which are largely immune to the occasional positive thought, or even to steady positive thinking that does not address them. Our teacher(s) can help guide us to this realization, but they cannot do the work for us.

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

Each of us must do our own inner work – once we learn how. And as we move forward in our spiritual growth, we may learn additional truths and tools to use. The wise teacher is one who assists the student in learning and using the appropriate level of spiritual teachings and spiritual tools. Our developmental growth must go in a certain order. We may be able to absorb a great deal of information intellectually very quickly, but our practice must follow a more deliberate path. The psyche is not the intellect; it has different rules, demands different approaches. Where intellectual learning is the absorption of information and the occasional “AHA moment,” the psyche is moved forward by emotional growth and deep practice – in a nonlinear manner.

“I have always believed myself to be possessed of two souls, one that lives on the surface of life, pleasing and pleased; the other as deep and as unfathomable as the ocean; a mystery to me and all who know me.”

~ Adah Isaacs Menken, 1862

The purpose of all these efforts toward spiritual growth is to open ourselves to our divine heritagelove, compassion, and meaning. This divine heritage lies just beyond the obstacles we have placed in our psyches during our lives – most unconsciously and unwittingly; but there they are. When we realize more of this heritage, we are ready to do the serious work of engaged spirituality to create The Beloved Community.

In part 2 of this series, we will further explore the way forward if we are to be healed at depth. And, while all in good fun, that warning label will still apply.

Beautiful Forest Stream Scene

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

Here is where you can get my book

CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY:

A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership,

in paperback or Kindle editions

(LINK TO AMAZON.COM)

WHEN THINGS DON’T GET BETTER

OR, AM I THE ONLY ONE HAVING TROUBLE SEEING THE GOOD IN THE ELECTION RESULTS?

“Nobody will save you but you. You alone have to engage your own contemplative development. . . . If you do not engage this development, and on your death-bed you confess and scream out for help to God, nothing is going to happen. Spiritual development is not a matter of mere belief. It is a matter of actual, prolonged, difficult growth, and merely professing belief is meaningless and without impact. It’s like smoking for twenty years, then saying, ‘Sorry, I quit.’ That will not impress cancer. Reality is not interested in your beliefs; it’s interested in your actions, what you actually do, your actual karma.”

~ Ken Wilber

New Thought’s penchant for positive thinking tends to attract optimistic thinkers. For those who are not natural optimists when they arrive at New Thought community, they often learn to direct their thinking in a more positive direction. Some do so better than others; some feel the need to project optimism in public (New Thought public, anyway), while harboring negative thought patterns inside.

Breaking News Fear

Since the election in November, I have heard and read a lot of responses from those in New Thought. Some call for action/resistance, some call for prayer and meditation, some call for reaching out to those with different political beliefs, some expect a change of heart in the newly elected president and his appointees, but just about every one calls for optimism. Even if, they may not see much reason to be optimistic.

Even our beloved Edwene Gaines, the longtime champion of the prosperity message in New Thought has spoken out in a distinctly non-optimistic manner on Facebook:

What do we call a person who lies, calls people names, insults others, demeans and belittles anyone who questions him or her, brags about assaulting women, doesn’t pay his debts, defames people of other religions, mimics the disabled, hides his finances, uses his position to increase his personal wealth and believes the American people will put up with this?

Oh yes, we call him THE LEADER OF THE FREE WORLD.
If this makes you angry or annoyed, PLEASE point out where I am not being truthful, and I will apologize. (I’m just saying…)

 Indeed, it is a time of confusion and pain for many, because we want to see the larger world around us reflect the values that we have within ourselves. What I saw in the 2016 election was not optimism, and that is of great concern. It means, among other things, that I have some work to do.

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

~ Joseph Campbell, Goddesses: Mysteries of the Feminine Divine

 There are times in life when things do not go well. This is true in the life of every individual – we all experience pain, loss, betrayal, illness – and in the larger life of societies. New Thought principles encourage the development of spiritual awareness, love, and compassion. None of those things, as far as I can tell, are on the agenda of what will be the new United States government.

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

In the realm of effect, some will clearly lose some protections that they had at the time of the election, be that some degree of security in one’s immigration status or the ability to get health care with a pre-existing condition. And while we in New Thought can encourage such people to up their consciousness to manifest something better, many people do not know how to do that, including, if we want to be honest, many in our New Thought spiritual communities.

“Feeling unsafe . . . is the first obstacle to love.” ~ Barbara Fredrickson

 Perhaps, as some of my colleagues say, this series of events will inevitably lead to a better society for us all, either through proving many wrong about the intentions of the incoming administration, or by means of something better arising through whatever chaos and wreckage is wrought. There is always an opportunity for growth – but forgive me if I am feeling sad that so many apparently must to traverse a more painful pathway to have that opportunity.

How do I know that? I don’t. I dearly hope that I am wrong, or that the resulting resurrected society is so wonderful that it is worth the suffering that it takes to realize it. But I know that breakdown does not automatically mean breakthrough. Sometimes, it just means collapse. We must seize the opportunities and be relentlessly devout in our spiritual practices so that we are prepared for the inevitable opportunities for growth.

We are called in times such as these to a higher way of being. Our inner compass can tell us if we are prepared sufficiently for the challenges we face. If our fear is greater than our realization of love, then we have more work to do.

 “There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

~ John Lennon

 Meditation Ocean

Now is not the time for those who have developed spiritual awareness to retreat from life. Now is the time to do what each of us is called to do – to pray and meditate, to take part in positive demonstrations, to speak from our hearts, to listen deeply to others, and to be patient with our culture as it changes form. Do what is yours to do after examining your heart. What is being called forth from you by these conditions?

“Be curious, not judgmental.” ~ Walt Whitman

Most of all, we must endeavor to live the lives that are possible for us, which are not dependent on any outside agency. We must live from a compassionate heart, from a consciousness that realizes our power, and which is impermeable to fear.

“Never give in, never give in, never, never, never, never — in nothing, great or small, large or petty — never give in except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

~ Winston Churchill

It is time to heal, to love, and to create a new world together.

“Spirit can only do for us what It can do through us.” ~ Ernest Holmes

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

NOTE: My new book CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY: A Handbook for Spiritual Leadership, is now available at this (LINK). Give one to your spiritual leader(s)!