FINDING OUR WAY THROUGH THE CHAOS

The past two months have taken me to the U.S. and Mexico before coming back to France. Dorianne and I vacationed in Puerto Vallarta, stayed with friends and visited family in Southern California, and attended to some elder care issues for family members. I traveled to Washington DC to visit my daughter and Maryland to visit my aunt and uncle, now in their 90’s. I did a men’s retreat at CSL Simi Valley (LINK) and spoke at the Global Truth Center LA (LINK); later I spend a weekend with the leadership team at CSL Salt Lake City (LINK) and spoke at their Sunday service. While I was doing that, Dorianne was teaching courses in Mindful Leadership and more to students in Health Care Management in San Diego and Houston.

It was an exhilarating and exhausting trip, book-ended by long travel days, but all of it was our choice, which made it a bit more exhilarating and a bit less exhausting. Of course, during this time, climate change continued on its inexorable pace, the impeachment of the US President moved to the Senate for a “trial,” the Coronavirus (LINK) became news, and the usual litany of humanity’s agonies was discussed on regular and social media. What a time to be alive!

It is a great time to be alive, first because we are alive, and that is pretty great; but also, we get to live at a time which is calling forth great strides in human development. While this is often painful, chaotic, confusing, frustrating, and challenging, it is also filled with the opportunity to actualize potential at levels never seen in human history. Nothing short of this kind of growth in consciousness will take us to a sustainable future.

“Most people with an ear to the ground understand to some extent that the collective behavior of our species is unsustainable. Where they differ in opinion is on what should be done to address this problem. Where they unify in opinion is on the assumption that the solution will look like their own personal ideology winning out over all the others. Capitalists believe that capitalism will provide technological solutions to the problems that capitalism has created, and that this will happen more quickly and efficiently if the fetters on capitalism are removed. Socialists believe that socialism will solve the problems that socialism has been powerless to provide this entire time, if only this consistent pattern of socialism’s inability to obtain dominance is magically deviated from somehow. And so on.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone (LINK)

Driving around Los Angeles, I was struck by the magnitude of the challenge to shift away from fossil fuels in this car-dominated megaplex. What combination of technological advances and cultural willingness to change is required to shift to a more sustainable existence here? Where will the resources come from? Who will lead in influencing so many diverse people to make such a shift?

Our stuckness in our own ideologies is an enemy of collective progress. We are called to rise beyond political, religious, and philosophical differences and to contribute to a new collective wisdom. Being humbly unattached to our certainties and willing to explore different and new ideas is now an essential reality. As Alvin Toffler wrote in the last century, “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Our answers lie not in our past, nor in what we know presently, but in our ability to merge our current wisdom with new thinking while releasing what no longer works.

“. . . if there is to be any deviation from our species’ self-destructive trajectory, the cause of that deviation will come completely out of left field. No one will expect it, because it won’t come from a direction that we have been conditioned through our experience to look. Our unpatterning will necessarily come from a completely un-patterned direction. A collective movement in an unprecedented direction will necessarily have an unprecedented antecedent.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

 “The problem isn’t whether or not, as I find myself being asked lately ‘we have a future’, but that we do, absolutely, have a future.”

~ William Gibson

Given that we are faced with a future which arises out of our present, there are questions I must face. Am I in a place where I can shift deeply held aspects of my beliefs and behaviors quickly enough to embrace something radically new? If not, is it something I can be working toward – the ability and a greater willingness to shift? How many of my comforts am I willing to do without?

“An epochal shift is taking place in the contemporary psyche, a reconciliation between the two great polarities, a union of opposites: a sacred marriage between the long-dominant but now alienated masculine and the long-suppressed but now ascending feminine.”

~ Richard Tarnas

At the men’s retreat on the healthy masculine (LINKS to past blog posts on this topic), we talked about such issues – coming to terms with our conditioning to abandon our feminine side and how to re-connect in a healthy way. We were confronted with the significant challenge to heal what we often did not realize was wounded, as we are so conditioned in society’s view of what it means to be a man. Women, along with men and everyone on the spectrum of gender have their own work to do in this regard, because only healthy masculine and feminine aspects (not genders – all genders contain masculine and feminine) can allow us the creativity to move forward.

Only through deeper spiritual and psychological exploration and practices will we be able to tap into the reservoir of genius within ourselves. This is what we are called to do by the world as it is today – to deepen our practices and be the drivers of the next leap of evolution as humanity. The alternative is to be driven by conditions produced by a collective consciousness of fear and ignorance.

“Our blind spot, from a person or people point of view, keeps us from seeing that we do indeed have greatly enhanced direct access to the deeper sources of creativity and commitment, both as individuals and as communities. It is one of our most hopeful sources of confidence because we can access a deeper presence, power, and purpose from within. From a structural point of view, the societal blind spot deals with the lack of these cross-sector action groups that intentionally operate from a future that wants to emerge. Instead, we see only special interest groups and three types of fundamentalism, each trying to solve our current mess in a single-minded way.” 

~ C. Otto Scharmer, Theory U (LINK)

Going beyond our settled notions of what works and what doesn’t is essential. Only by breaking through to new developmental levels and to new ways of seeing at every level will we move forward with a minimum of suffering and loss. Yes, it is that serious; the effects of our past ignorance and greed are rising up as the planet’s immune system seeks to rid itself of the disease called fear-based humanity. We are the disease, not in our highest potential, but in our collective actions up until now.

“So what you can do on a personal level is let go of your attachment to the known. Sell off all stocks you’ve invested in your conditioned mental patterning and begin doing the hard inner work necessary to embrace the unknown and unknowable. Begin surprising yourself, and opening doors to allow life to surprise you. Take chances on new and unpredictable situations instead of taking refuge in the known and the familiar. Give less and less interest and attention to your conditioned, looping mental narratives and more and more to the uncontrollable present moment in which literally anything can be born.”

~ Caitlin Johnstone

I do not see my inner work as hard in itself; inner work is a joy. What is hard is peeling back the layers of the onion of my fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases. So I engage in my inner work, my daily practices, not a labor but as exploration in a field of love. My fears, limitations, entrenched beliefs, and biases are not held against me. They simply disappear when I replace them with a higher order of thinking and being. Our work together is serious and has huge consequences; it is too important to be left to chance. However, we must approach our individual work lightly, lovingly, with self-compassion and higher expectations. I know of no better way forward.

“It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days… Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling…”

~ Aldous Huxley, Island

 

Copyright 2020 – Jim Lockard

I will be at the Centers for Spiritual Living Convention in Denver in February (CSL.org); also, I will be speaking at the Foothills Center for Spiritual Living Evergreen (LINK) on Sunday, February 16th and conducting a special interview with CSL Spiritual Leader, Dr. Kenn Gordon later that day at the Grand Hyatt Denver LINK to info – join us if you can!

Archives Denver Event

ROOT CAUSE: HEALING THE MASCULINE CONSCIOUSNESS, PART 4

“Culture that celebrates the cunning and cleverness of people who win at being predators shouldn’t be surprised they occupy pinnacle positions. Justifying exploitation as normal or necessary was a dead-end game. The future is in the integrity of recognizing interdependence.”

~ Nora Bateson (Twitter)

 

“The experience of the feminine is the psychological key to both the sickness of our time and its healing.”

~ Marion Woodman, Jungian analyst

In Parts 1 (LINK), 2 (LINK), and 3 (LINK) of this series, we have explored a number of aspects of the wounded masculine consciousness. In this post, we will sum up and offer some prescriptive ideas which may lead to healing at the individual and societal level. The dance of masculine and feminine underlies everything in human existence – it is essential to the creative process and to being fulfilled as a human being. This has been known for a long time – and in modernity, we have forgotten many of the basic truths of our nature.

“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, pp. 14-15

 

As noted previously, we tend to raise our children according to firm gender roles and expectations, many of which are so culturally ingrained into us that we are blind to them. As a result, we are conditioned to repress the masculine or feminine energy according to our outer gender appearance by our parents and by society at large. This leads to those “overflowing toilet bowls,” not only in our dreams, but in the society we have created and in the individual lives we lead.

Masculine 11

Nothing in this series should be interpreted as a denigration of either “toughness” or warriorship in men or in women. The defense of what is valuable is healthy, and that is what warriors do. What is destructive is aggression and a sense of macho bravado that has nothing to do with defending what is valuable but is about defending one’s insecurity and inauthenticity. Such energy has done damage to countless human lives and to cultures over the years. That is what needs to be healed. The mature spiritual warrior comes to realize that the important battles are all within.

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

~ Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche

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There is no single answer as to how to heal the woundedness of the masculine consciousness, nor the wounding to the feminine consciousness which has been a result of the masculine wounding. A beginning step is an awareness of the existence of the wounding – something that some are aware of (some men and probably most women), but not enough to forge meaningful cultural changes to how we parent and teach our children about the masculine and feminine energies.

“Men have been taught to sacrifice their hearts and their lives for the forward movement of civilization. And we have collectively been taught to assume men will not be affected by what the male role requires of them. . .. The definition of a man is to put duty ahead of emotional fulfillment.”

~ Linda Marks, Narcissism And The Male Heart Wound (LINK)

The way these creative energies have been viewed during the development of patriarchal culture over several thousand years has resulted in deeply ingrained biases in almost everyone about gender roles and expectations. “Coming out” is the act of stating that who I am is not within the rigid boundaries of what is culturally accepted as male and female gender roles, or as masculine and feminine consciousness within an individual. The fact that one has to “come out” at all is proof that these rigid beliefs exist, as do the structures and practices which arise from them; and that they reinforce one another. The cultural norms which have resulted in and from patriarchy are seen as a clear path to power, just as much today as two thousand years ago.

“We need to note that patriarchy and masculinity are not synonymous. Female patriarchs can be just as domineering as males. Like their male counterparts, they live in a patriarchal ethos that operates through control over others, over themselves, over nature.”

~ Marion Woodman

“The consequence of the patriarchal male’s haughtiness toward women leads to the inability to make any genuine contact with the Feminine (Anima), i.e., not only in a real woman but also with the Feminine in himself, the unconscious.”

~ Erich Neumann

“Women are taught that they aren’t allowed to be angry, that it’s aggressive, ugly, always unwarranted; so we cry when we’re mad, and we are mocked, diminished, dismissed. There is never a safe way for women to feel rage, yet even in silence we are blamed for saying nothing.”

~ @emrazz on Twitter

Masculinity 4

Coming to terms with one’s position in the Patriarchy.

The Women’s Movement, the Civil Rights Movement, and the LGBTQA Movements have unfolded within a patriarchal context, often seeking goals similar to those who operate within the accepted frameworks of the patriarchy. The desire for equal employment, equal pay, and for marriage equality, speak to the desire to be allowed to enjoy rights of the while male class which has been atop the patriarchy for centuries. The initial phases of movements by oppressed peoples have, of course, be to gain rights relating to civic and economic life. These are essential rights within a society, but they do not necessarily address the deeper healing which needs to occur.

For a true healing of masculine consciousness to occur, we must go deeper. While laws may govern behaviors, they do not govern beliefs. The continuing efforts to repeal laws of every kind which have been passed in the last 50 years to protect those who have been oppressed show that beliefs have not changed as much as we might wish. The negative reaction among white people to conversations about reparations for slavery is another example. It is not unlike speaking to an active addict about their addiction; the ego-self will lash out, so strong is the denial. We are dealing with largely unconscious accepted biases and beliefs.

MASCULINE ENERGY

Healing begins with an awareness of the issue to be healed, then one must see the value in pursuing any healing process, then one must follow that process. The dynamics for individuals and cultures are somewhat different, because cultures will have a mixture of people at different stages of and openness to the healing process. Until there is sufficient conscious awareness of the problem and its nature, perhaps from a deep loss or trauma, healing will not be undertaken. Shadow integration is a difficult and painful type of healing, requiring a willingness to reveal very uncomfortable truths. The ego structure will resist any approach which threatens to reveal the deeper issues which it is working to deny. Remember, denial is an unconscious process, shadow is unconscious, and the ego seeks to keep them that way.

“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

Healing can be facilitated in a number of ways. One is by participation in men’s groups (LINK) focused on healing, in the recovery movement (AA, NA, GA, etc.), in therapy, and in spiritual communities where there is a psychological element (as noted in Lee’s quote above). It can also be done alone, but this is the most difficult path, as the ego will resist the kind of deep examination and revelation necessary for true shadow work. It is important to work with someone who has done their own shadow work successfully (which does not mean they have no shadow; it means they have resolved most of the major areas of repression). Things will come into conscious awareness which are difficult to deal with and must be managed in a healthy way.

MASCULINE ENERGY books

Starting points might be the books of Robert A. Johnson (LINK), a Jungian therapist with a deep understanding of symbolism and mythology. Also, the work of James Hollis (LINK), another Jungian who writes clearly about these issues. The poetry of Robert Bly (LINK), Coleman Barks (LINK), and David Whyte (LINK) can be a way to reach into one’s symbolic, mythological, and archetypal self. Debbie Ford’s classic book “Dark Side of the Light Chasers” (LINK) is a great primer to the shadow and shadow work.

In our New Thought spiritual communities, we need to take an approach that we are all works in progress, the products of patriarchal culture with conscious and unconscious biases which limit our ability to be authentically masculine or feminine. The healing practices of affirmative prayer and meditation are wonderful and to be encouraged, however, we must recognize that they can also be used as spiritual bypass when deep and uncomfortable issues are not explored.

There is no more important spiritual work than shadow work. Revealing one’s true self is paramount in moving toward a deep realization of spirit within. The path to the realization of spirit is within yourself; shadow block the path of realization. There are trials involved in this deep work; it is a true hero’s journey (LINK). And it requires a willingness to be uncomfortable, which can be difficult in spiritual communities where everyone appearing to be happy and satisfied is valued (and enforced).

It is time to stop dancing around the edges of spiritual awakening. It is time to dive into the painful waters of radical self-exploration and radical truth-telling in a community where compassion forms the essence of co-existence. It is time.

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

~ Ram Dass

In Part 5 of this blog, I will describe to the best of my ability what a healthy masculine expression might look like. I recognize the possible varieties of expression are endless, however, the essential elements would be consistent.

I am deeply appreciative of the responses to this blog series thus far. As always, your comments are appreciated in the comments section below. Please share this blog with others who may be interested.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

 

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

Dali-2 - Egg

“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

Poster - authentic-self-soul-made-visible2

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

 

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

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

~ Erwin Schrödinger

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

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

Beautiful Prayer Flags

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

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

~ Keiron le Grice

Beautiful Nautilus

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

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

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

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

~ Osho

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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

 

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 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

 

 

WOULD WE BE A DIFFERENT MOVEMENT IF THE SCIENCE OF MIND 1926 EDITION HAD REMAINED OUR PROMINENT TEXT?

“In presenting these lessons on Mental Science, I do not claim to have discovered any new Truth. The Truth has been known in every age by a few; but the great mass of people has never even dreamed that we live in a mental and spiritual world. To-day, however, there is a great inquiry into the deeper meaning of life because the race has reached a state of unfoldment where a broader scope is possible.”

~ First line of Forward, The Science of Mind™, 1926 Edition

Loyal readers know that I am mostly all about change. I have even supported an updating of the Science of Mind™ text (LINK). But just for fun, let’s explore what the Religious Science Movement would be like today if, instead of revising the text in 1938 (the text used in SOM classes), the decision had been made to stay with the original 1926 Edition of The Science of Mind (LINK to Online Version).

Holmes & 1926 Text

The structure of the 1926 Edition starts with an essay on The Evolution of Man’s Thought, then a series of six lessons about the Science of Mind. This is followed by 21 Special Articles on topics ranging from Absoluteness and Relativity, to The Sequence of the Creative Order, to Jesus as a Savior. Then there are 12 Meditations for Self-Help and Healing, a Glossary and the Index.

I am not certain why the text was so thoroughly revised in the mid-1930’s. But if I may make a guess, I would say that it was likely done for two major reasons. First, the structure of the lessons may have been unpopular with the new group of ministers who were leading the Religious Science churches in the 1930’s (Dr. Robert Bitzer being the first minister recruited for this purpose in 1930); Religious Science ministers are notably an independent lot, and it is likely that they preferred to present material according to their own preferences (just taking a wild guess here). Indeed, it was out of print for decades. Secondly, I can see how a few sections of the 1926 Edition may have been seen as controversial to some in a new denomination seeking some degree of acceptance in the larger religious landscape of the time.

Hints abound. Two entire subjects did not make it into the 1938 Edition of the textbook. One was Lesson Six: The Law of Psychic Phenomena, seen as important enough to be part of the basic teaching in the 1920’s. In the introduction to the lesson, Dr. Holmes wrote: “While no apologies are made for the ensuing pages, yet, in justice to the Truth, it must be said that many of the world’s eminent scientists have investigated the subjects to be discussed, and so far, to the author’s knowledge, none of them have ever refuted the ensuing facts.” This seems to indicate that he saw the topic as both controversial and sufficiently proven to include as a part of the basic lessons of the teaching.

Psychic Phenomenon Collage

“There is within man a power that can communicate without the tongue, hear without the ear, see without the eye, talk without the mouth, move ponderable objects and grasp things without the hand; and perform many other feats that are usually connected only with the physical instrument. All these facts have been completely proved, and it is no longer necessary to produce evidence to substantiate these facts.”

~ Science of Mind 1926 Edition, page 229

Holmes - Young

Dr. Ernest Holmes

Dr. Holmes explains, or attempts to explain, a number of psychic phenomena, including clairvoyance, clairaudience, telepathy, and apparitions. He also described things such as inspiration, streams of consciousness, The Theory of Ectoplasm, and how to create personal charm here. He attributes all of these phenomena to the interaction between the localized, individualized mind and the Universal Mind. Our human minds, he writes, have two aspects, the objective (conscious) and subjective (subconscious); it is the subjective aspect which is embedded in the Universal Mind. For some, what we call psychic phenomena, which are present in the subjective minds of all of us, become available to the objective mind. This can just happen spontaneously, or one can be trained in developing a greater receptivity.

SOM - You Will Live Forever Holmes

In another section of the lesson, he explains immortality and its link to psychic phenomena. Some of the material relating to immortality also appears in the 1938 Edition, but without reference to psychic phenomena. Here is a quote from the section about the human aura:

“The human aura is the mental vibration or emanation of the individual. The idea of the halo surrounding the heads of the saints is explained in this way. The personal atmosphere varies with the changing thought and emotion and is sometimes pleasant and at other times unpleasant.”

~ Science of Mind 1926 Edition, page 278

The second subject which was not included in the 1938 Edition relates to sexuality and gender. This is primarily contained in the special article entitled “Repression and Sublimation.” Here, Dr. Holmes writes about sex and gender, both subjectively and objectively. He also includes descriptions of the relatively new (at the time) field of psychoanalysis and the concept of self-analysis. While some of the material in this section may have been eliminated because it was based on the new and rapidly changing field of western Psychology, there is little doubt that the material on sex and gender was seen as too controversial for the 1938 Edition. Here is a quote from the special article:

 

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

– Ernest Holmes, Science of Mind 1926 Edition, page 305

Sexuality & Gender 1920s

To get back to the question in the title of this post, what might our movement look like if we had continued to hold psychic phenomena and sex and gender as major components of our teaching? Might this have led us to be less mainstream (to the degree that we might be considered in such a light) or less like a church? We will never know.

To be sure, most of the content in the 1926 Edition is reproduced in the 1938 Edition, if reformatted. There are different things emphasized and the first four chapters of the 1938 Edition is new material. It is said that Dr. Holmes was less involved in the production of the 1938 Edition, however, this is disputed by some. What is clear is that he did evolve in some ways. Although he never abandoned the key ideas of the philosophy:

  1. An Infinite Creative Intelligence

  2. A human mind with subjective and objective components

  3. We humans direct our own experience by the use of our minds, which are elements of the One Mind.

What evolved were specific notions of the interplay of individuals and groups and the effect on consciousness, and, in his later writings (especially The Holmes Papers – LINK), he began to write about the difficulties that many have in aligning their minds with Truth.

I believe that the 1926 Edition is worthy of ongoing study by students of The Science of Mind. It is not only a clear distillation of Dr. Holmes first decade-plus of the development of the philosophy, it offers unique insights into areas of his thinking that were not carried forward. And it is fun to speculate what might have been.

In addition to the poem “Peace Be Unto You Stranger, which appears before the Forward in both editions, this poem, “Yourself, follows the Forward in the 1926 Edition:

YOURSELF

Oh, weary heart, laden with earth’s weight and care,
Oh, feet, stumbling on the way, bleeding and bare,
Oh, arms outstretched, and hands upheld in prayer,
Oh, back, which so oft has felt the lash and rod,
Oh, soul, which cries aloud for the living God,
Oh, life, struggling to free itself from the clod;
Know this: there is no power from without,
Yourself must answer every fear and meet all doubt
With some divine, indwelling power
Which you yourself, upon yourself, shall shower;
And giving, take, and taking, give
Unto that life which you, yourself, shall live.

~ Dr. Ernest Holmes

As always, your comments are welcome! What are your thoughts about the original Science of Mind text? Note that the Science of Mind Archives and Library Foundation (LINK) has lots of materials from this era.

 Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

A NEW YEAR’S REVOLUTION – SOME THOUGHTS AS 2017 ENDS

“It’s the end of 2017. Time to start making a New Year’s Revolution.”

~ Michael Ian Black on Twitter

I keep edging toward a realization that what we need – in New Thought spiritual community and in the larger world – is not just change but transformation. Think of change as rearranging the furniture and transformation, or revolutionary change as building a new house. We need revolutionary change, because the complexities of the world have grown and continue to grow at a rate which is outpacing our ability to effectively manage them. We are losing whatever coherence we have had with the rate of cultural change, and our organizations and communities are dissipating (coming apart). If that dissipation continues without evolutionary leadership to help the new emergence of what is next, then . . .

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

If 2017 has taught us anything it is that our manifestation of New Thought philosophy has often been inadequate to the challenges of our times. We are losing ground in many ways. A quick answer to this might be something to the effect of “Good! The system is breaking down – it NEEDS to break down – and we will keep doing what we are doing until the new system replaces it.”

While that answer may be both quick and satisfying, it is woefully inadequate. The earth is moving beneath our feet – tectonic changes are emerging in cultural evolution and those who are not riding the crest of change are falling farther and farther behind. Those people are angry, they are speaking out – sometimes violently, and they are even more inadequately prepared for what is coming than those “crest-riders” mentioned above. 2017 has shown these things in definitive fashion.

“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

One way to transform our thinking is to see the “manifestation of symptoms” as an early stage of healing. This is true in cultural terms as well. We collectively face challenges which include political corruption, mass poverty, ecological devastation, terrorism, the refugee crisis, structural racism and sexism; the root causes for all of these issues are deeply and systemically cultural. The symptoms of these challenges, and the social and economic discrimination related to them are evidence of a deep universal pattern of healing attempting to emerge. Just as we often personally react with denial when symptoms arise, our culture fights the appearance of symptoms, delaying or denying any healing which may take place. Our Shadows, both individual and collective, hold us in place, driving us to try first to “return to normal” – an impossibility, but when we are in denial we lack clarity.

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

There is a temptation for students of New Thought philosophies to express their fear and denial by practicing a form of magical thinking – something to the effect of “it’s all good!” The confusion here is that while it IS all good at the level of Spirit, we are the ones responsible for manifesting good at the level of our own reality. The world is not going to heal itself without a shift in consciousness, just as you are not going to heal your own issues without a shift in consciousness. And any shift of any real depth is not going to happen without some profound and rigorous psychological and emotional work. Our real challenges are not surface challenges, they call forward our deepest selves.

“There is a lack of spiritual leadership in the world right now, so we shouldn’t be concerned what the world thinks of us. We have a religious concept that will revolutionize the world and we just need to stick with it.

“Persistence will bring success, but it is a positive persistence that keeps affirming spiritual reality in spite of material effect. This means continually using ‘constructive rather than destructive conversation,’ seeing the Divine in every person and surrendering the mind in complete abandonment to the idea of success regardless of relative condition or opinion.”

~Ernest Holmes, 1933 Commentaries: Lesson Seven

Here Dr. Holmes uses persistence as a term for rigorous and continual work. It is not merely “holding a positive thought,” in fact, we are taught not to hold thoughts at all – they must flow. What we seek is a continual and persistent stream of uplifting and powerfully emotional thoughts which flow into the creative process and become our belief system. Then, we naturally act from this new belief system and our experience is transformed.

“Living a life of fulfillment that offers something of value to the world starts with radical self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-acceptance. Our task is to be who we are at the deepest level of being “

 ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer, THE DANCE

 

Beautiful Dance

We keep doing our spiritual work to elevate to the next level of development, and the next, and the next. There is no arriving, there is only the journey. The journey is either going somewhere or staying in place, and the universe does not accept staying in place, does it? The key role of spiritual community today and in the future is to be places where such deep transformational work can be done in a safe and supportive environment. What the world needs now is empowered and realized evolutionary souls to contribute to an expanding consciousness of compassion, love, and service. It needs a #NewYearsRevolution.

“The 20th century was the Age of Introspection, when self-help and therapy culture encouraged us to believe that the best way to understand who we are and how to live was to look inside ourselves. But it left us gazing at our own navels. The 21st century should become the Age of Empathy, when we discover ourselves not simply through self-reflection, but by becoming interested in the lives of others. We need empathy to create a new kind of revolution. Not an old-fashioned revolution built on new laws, institutions, or policies, but a radical revolution in human relationships.”

~ Roman Krznaric

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

NOTE: I am honored to be a keynote speaker at BE THE VOICE FOR POSITIVE CHANGE GATHERING, an event in San Diego, California – January 19-21.

Here is a link if you are interested:

http://www.lornabright.com/gathering/

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

 

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 3

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“It is entirely conceivable that life’s splendor forever lies in wait about each one of us in all its fullness, but veiled from view, deep down, invisible, far off. It is there, though, not hostile, not reluctant, not deaf. If you summon it by the right word, by its right name, it will come.”

~ Franz Kafka, Diaries

If we are going to change our results in life, we must change our relationship with Source – our Inner Genius that is an individualized expression of the Universal Intelligence. Nothing is being withheld from us – our good lies in wait for us to evolve and develop to the point that we become welcoming conduits for its expression. If our current experience of life falls short of the ideal possibilities, then we have work to do – and we all have work to do.

Deep calls unto us – calling us to awaken to a greater Truth and to become welcoming conduits through which It can express fully. When enough of us have done this, the experience of humanity will be transformed. This series speaks to this idea in the context of committing to deeper spiritual practice and psychological development, so that we express more and more of our spiritual potential.

“People decide to live a spiritual life, they think it’s going to be all flower petals and incense; but really it’s much more like ‘I can’t eat my dinner because I’ve just learned something upsetting about myself.’”

~ David Hawkins, M.D., Ph.D., Transcending the Mind

 This kind of deep spirituality involves the pain of self-discovery, as David Hawkins notes. As we arrive at each discovery, we inhabit our current levels of awareness and development, which determine our experience of the discovery. Pain and sadness are often on the pathway of spiritual awakening and deepening. Going deep is never easy for us. Where we are developmentally on the spiral will have a lot to do with whether and how we continue forward.

VMEMEs Simplified

“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

Spiral Dynamics™(LINK) shows us how the evolution of human consciousness (as complexity of thought and evolving values systems) creates the dynamics of our development. As we move up the spiral (assuming more complex external living conditions are present), we can display our values constructively or destructively. Each level on the spiral can be expressed in healthy or unhealthy ways. The depth and consistency of spiritual practices has a significant effect on this process.

Every spiritual community has several Levels of Existence (vMEMEs) present. It may be two or six. The levels generate dynamics within themselves and with other levels. The degree to which the levels present are healthy or unhealthy generate additional dynamics – it can get very complicated. When spiritual leaders fail to understand the nature of these dynamics and levels of existence, they make assumptions based on inadequate understanding – and often exaggerate or misdiagnose the problems and opportunities present.

The greater the degree of surface-level spirituality, the greater the degree of dysfunction present. We must create a healthy pathway for those at different vMEMEs to evolve and to go deeper within our spiritual communities, or we miss so many opportunities for spiritual realization.

“While genes evolve slowly, the decision systems formed by vMEMEs are always on the move. vMEMEs can be so dominant they seem like archetypes and are easily misinterpreted as ‘types’ of people. When several are in harmony, vMEMEs resonate like the notes in a musical chord. However, vMEMEs in conflict lead to troubled individuals, dysfunctional families, corporate malaise, fractured churches, and civilizations in decline and fall. Since they are ‘alive,’ vMEMEs can ebb and flow, intensify and soften like a string of Christmas tree lights on a dimmer. Several different ones may line up in support of a specific issue, idea, or project because they share the values contents. At other times, people with essentially the same vMEME decision-making frameworks may disagree violently over details of beliefs and what is ‘the good,’ degenerating into holy and un-civil war.”

~ Don Beck & Christopher Cowan, SPIRAL DYNAMICS

 While understanding the vMEMEs present is not a “magic solution,” it can lead to a greater awareness of the issues and dynamics at hand and how they are given meaning within the community. New Thought teachings are about transformation and change. Most people are evolving along the spiral all the time, and there are some common values emerging along the way. Also, levels alternate between individual and communal values systems – which has a significant effect on how we show up, both in their own spiritual growth and in spiritual community.

Each of the 1st Tier vMEMEs has its own positives and negatives when it comes to the issues of personal spiritual development, spiritual community, and the interplay of the two. As I have noted before (LINK) and in my book (LINK), the main vMEMEs or Levels of Existence present in New Thought spiritual community are Traditionalist-Blue, Modernist-Orange, and Postmodernist-Green. 2nd Tier, Integral-Yellow may also be present in small numbers. Lower levels on the spiral, Beige, Purple, and Red influence how higher levels show up as well, but tend not to be dominant values systems in modern communities.

Church - Blue-Orange-Green

Blue, in its healthy expression is likely to engage in deep practice if that is what the relevant authority says it should do. Unhealthy Blue may rebel (expressing Red) or follow a counter-authority. Healthy Orange will engage in deep practice if it is seen by them as being personally beneficial – remember, those centered at Orange are all about themselves. Unhealthy Orange will run roughshod over others and show up as competitive in a toxic sense. Healthy Green will seek an egalitarian and communal approach to practices, and will go deep if there are enough members of the community willing to participate, so long as it does not appear that others are being left out against their will. Unhealthy Green may demand deep practice of others, but find ways to avoid it themselves; they may also express judgmental attitudes toward others. Also at Green, there is a reawakening of Tribal-Purple, with its love of ritual and spirituality based on symbolism.

Face - stressed-out

The Frustration of Not Understanding Cultural Evolutionary Dynamics

Spiritual leaders may find themselves wondering how to organize these disparate values systems into something cohesive – in fact, this is a major challenge for spiritual leadership. Modern progressive spirituality, such as New Thought, is not exempt from this issue. The days when Traditionalist-Blue thinking dominated are gone, except in fundamentalist communities – meaning that people will not automatically obey authority any more (have you noticed?). Orange wants their needs met or they leave; Green insists that leaders ensure that everyone feels good about everything (and is anti-hierarchical as well, so suspicious of authority). Orange wants you to tell it like it is and Green wants you to tell it so no one gets upset.

“The growth of multiculturalism and globalization brings us rising levels of complexity and nuance. The ability to hold tension is absolutely essential. Fundamentalism—strict adherence to one’s view of the world as the only right way—is essentially a refusal to live in tension.”

~ David Livermore

I include a Spiral Dynamics view here because it can bring a greater depth to our overall understanding of the need for a deeper approach to spiritual growth, and the dynamic tensions involved both in our personal growth and in our spiritual communities. It contains opportunities for greater understanding of the dynamic processes affecting us as we develop. When we apply ourselves more fully to our practices, we reveal more of our inner splendor and genius, we are more fulfilled personally, and a greater contributor to all of humanity.

 

In Part 4 of the series, I will explore ways to create greater opportunities for deep spirituality in New Thought spiritual communities.

Beautiful Garden

 

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)

DEEP CALLS UNTO DEEP – WHAT THEY DON’T TELL YOU AT SUNDAY SERVICES, PART 2

Spiritually Mature Subject Matter

“I would be remiss if I did not sound a warning concerning the dangers associated with a radical change of consciousness.”

~ June Singer, Jungian Analyst

 This series is looking at bringing greater depth to spiritual teachings in New Thought. I realize that not only will some have no interest in this topic, some may even find it superfluous. But such is life.

The journey to spiritual realization is one made over time. There are no short cuts – not in the sense that permanent transformation (deep change) can come easily. Time is an essential ingredient. Even when we have some cathartic experience, whether an “AHA moment” or a major life event, the resulting changes must be integrated deeply into the psyche over time in a mellowing process. The deeply conditioned self is very stable – it does not change easily or quickly. We may feel changed at depth after a powerful workshop, but how often does that change translate into a truly new direction in life?

“It’s hard to leave any deeply routine life, even if you hate it.”

~ John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Those of us who are students and teachers of New Thought ought to be especially cognizant of this – we are in it for the long haul, not the quick fix. Ask any long-time spiritual leader what percentage of her students have evidenced deep, lasting, transformative change in their lives. The numbers will be small. “Many are called, but few are chosen.”

How many have done serious shadow work; how many have examined the depths of their psyches even to the point of recognizing their own destructive subconscious patterns? How many have proven this by showing a mastery of even the basics of living a life? How many exist in a space where all their energies must go toward physical, financial, and social survival? How many have little or no energy left for the pursuit of the inner life of the mystical domains, where spiritual realization must be cultivated? How many have even developed consistent patterns of positive thought and emotion, regardless of in what circumstances they find themselves?

“To find your own way is to follow your bliss. This involves analysis, watching yourself and seeing where real deep bliss is – not the quick little excitement, but the real deep, life-filling bliss.”

~ Joseph Campbell

Secret Teachings Image

Every great spiritual teaching has elements that are inaccessible to the average consciousness. As a single example, the opening of the Gospel of Thomas (LINK) refers to what follows as the secret teachings, which are only to be made available to those who are ready to hear them. The danger in exposing an unprepared mind to great spiritual teachings is that they will be misunderstood and misused. It was a duty of a spiritual teacher in these traditions to determine what the student was ready to receive, and to give him or her only that much. Spiritual awareness is a process, and everyone isn’t at the same level of readiness at any given point. When we fail to include this truth in designing and teaching spiritual curricula, we set people up for failure – or, at minimum, place unintended obstacles in their path to spiritual realization.

Our inner integrity is always there, fully intact, in our deepest self. We have buried it, to one degree or another, through the accretion of false and limited beliefs over our lives. Spiritual development involves the gradual removal of this layer, the false ideas of self, and the revealing of that buried inner integrity with the goal of bringing it fully into our lives. We remember who we really are over time when we do the work of spiritual realization with rigor and determination. But at the beginning, we are ignorant, we think that our false and limited beliefs are the truth, and we fail to thrive. We seek what does not serve us, we dwell in anger and depression, we resist our teachers (and good teachers are essential in this process) and deny our true nature.

“The ego wants containment and control. It is only the soul that wants meaning and mystery. In fact, that is how I can know whether it is my ego that is leading me or the ‘brightness and the Holy Spirit.’ If I have not found a way to hear and allow that deeper level of soul, I will use all my roles, my relationships, and even my religion to fortify my ego and my private agenda.”

~ Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still

We begin our spiritual journey directed by our ego – the self-created aspect of the psyche which supports our current belief system. The ego is not a bad thing – think of it as the skeleton of the psyche, it will support whatever our dominant beliefs are. Our work is not to eliminate or destroy the ego, but to create a belief system or consciousness that is enlightened. We need to learn how to delve into the deep subconscious and eliminate the fear-based beliefs, replacing them with Truth. Our spiritual teacher(s) must have mastered this in her own life, and mastered how to teach it – two different things. And there is the fact that most people are not really interested in this level of spiritual growth – those who will go deep are few in number.

“Very few people ever mature. It is enough if they flower and re-seed. That is all that nature requires of them. But sometimes in a man or a woman awareness takes place — not very often and always inexplainable (sic). There are no words for it because there is no one ever to tell. This is a secret not kept a secret, but locked in wordlessness.”

~ John Steinbeck

If we are not changing, actually transforming over time, we are staying in place, maintaining the same belief systems while simply adding some spiritual-growth jargon to our vocabulary. The question of this blog post is – are New Thought organizations and spiritual leaders aiding and abetting this kind of spiritual malpractice? Or are they doing everything in their power to create environments where transformation of consciousness is not only likely, but expected? Or are they sacrificing serious students of deep change to serve a larger group interested only in surface change?

Chart - Comfort Zone

Spiritual leadership of spiritual communities is a complex undertaking. One must be concerned with any number of aspects of operation of a community organization. However, there must be a focus on developing core deep spiritual principles within those students who are willing to do the work. This not only perpetuates the teaching at a high level, but provides a significant spiritual influence on the entire community. Where mastery is taught, and emphasized, all benefit.

In Part 3 of this series, I will address how this shows up on the spiral (LINK), and give some guidance as to how to encourage a deeper approach to spiritual education (and in my book (LINK), I thoroughly examine this); but for now, let’s just say that currently we in New Thought tend to take a very egalitarian approach to our spiritual education – there is little, if any, rigor with regard to determining readiness for advanced materials, and, for the most part, our “professional-leveleducation has drifted more toward job preparation than to the development of significant levels of spiritual realization and psychological health. It may be time to expand our conversation.

Beautiful Flower Lotus

 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)