THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 4

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.”

~ Lewis Carrol, Alice in Wonderland

In Parts 1, 2 & 3 (LINK) (LINK) (LINK), I explored the issue of diversity & inclusion in New Thought spiritual communities from society-wide and local spiritual community cultural viewpoints. This final post is about how our individual psychology, if not properly understood, can create unintended barriers to creating successful programs. And no, spiritual communities where there is diversity and inclusion are not impossible – even in the suburbs!

 

beloved-community-i-have-a-dream

There is a concept described by the Spiral Dynamics Model (and in other places) called transcend and include. This means that as we develop to more complex levels of thought and values, we transcend our former levels, but they are included within us. This is true of any developmental perspective of human growth. We are all familiar with the Inner Child concept – where the unresolved issues of our past remain active in our subconscious and cause us to act from that unhealed perspective if not continually, at least from time to time.

“The more ‘enlightened’ we believe ourselves to be, the vaster we discover that which remains unconscious.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

We have within us the vestiges of thousands of years of humans living in tribes – groups of less than 100 people making their way in the world, some as nomads, some settled in place, but all with a fierce loyalty to the tribe and fear and suspicion of anyone not a part of the tribe. This tribal consciousness, identified as Purple in the Spiral Dynamics Model, is not only part of our collective past, but is also a stage in our individual human development. We have tribal relations with our family, our schools, etc., and this remains true in varying degrees for much of our lives. Spiritual community can bring forth tribal feelings of connections and being unique from other groups. It can unconsciously activate our desire for intimacy, protection, and safety among trusted companions. Centered around a teaching and/or a teacher/leader, spiritual community can carry many aspects of a tribal culture.

This unconscious aspect can act in a variety of ways on individuals, ways that may well result in subtle or not-so-subtle resistance to different people showing up to join the tribe. Even though at a conscious level, we may recognize the value of diversity, our subconscious may resist being truly welcoming and inviting diverse people into the heart of the community.

 

Such a response to diversity, or to the idea of diversity, may not even be at the level of conscious awareness. There may well be a sense of “why aren’t we more diverse?” or “Why don’t others stay around long?” But, if you ask a newcomer who is different from the other members, say someone of color or LGBTQIA, you may be surprised by what they are experiencing. It often takes some deep personal exploration of one’s unconscious patternsbiases and fears – before we allow ourselves to see these repressed aspects. While there are certainly people who are consciously biased and bigoted, it is likely that most of us simply have not done the personal work necessary to dislodge old tribal patterns of thought and therefore harbor impulses and fears which lead to behaviors signaling that we are not open and affirming to those outside of the tribe. When this is the case, we simply do not pay attention to the issue at a deep level, for our repressed aspects tend to control our perception – we don’t see what others see.

This tribal consciousness, combined with a human tendency to accept whatever goes on when we are children as “normal,” has led to an American culture where things such as white privilege can exist for centuries. Our innate biases tend to make us (white people) reject the idea of such a concept when we hear about it (LINK). Accepting that such things are real and are the result of conscious cultural behaviors can be very difficult, but necessary steps in our cultural awakening.

“Stark honesty, however painful, is needed on this journey toward the Self; the unconscious will not tolerate anything less. One must be willing to face many cruel truths, those we keep hidden from the light of day, and those we keep hidden from ourselves.”

~ Marion Woodman

 

 

The repression of both negative and positive instincts and feelings into the unconscious causes them to inhabit a shadow realm. While ego attempts to continue to censor the shadow impulses-the very pressure that repression causes is rather like a bubble in sidewall of a tire.”

~ Clarissa Pinkola Estés

These quotes strike at the heart of the issue that we face. No matter how willing we say that we are to open our communities to different people, our dominant consciousness will determine our behaviors. Putting up a rainbow flag but not being comfortable about LGBTIA people communicates a mixed message – and a mixed message is not a welcoming message. There is a learning curve across some differences in personal and cultural backgrounds which is much more difficult to traverse if we are bound by unconscious biases and fears.

Ultimately, each person is responsible for their own inner work – its degree, its depth, its sincerity. Certainly, spiritual leaders can and should be encouraging such work – and doing their own work in this regard. The culture of the local spiritual community, as described in Part 3 of this series, can have a significant effect on the personal spiritual and psychological development of its individual members. Is deep personal inquiry actually valued here – or just given lip service – or ignored completely?

Is spiritual leadership aware of the larger macro trends and dynamics affecting all aspects of spiritual community including diversity and inclusion, as described in Part 2 of this series? And if so, how is that awareness being integrated into the local spiritual community’s activities, planning, and ways of being?

And finally, if diversity is present in the community, or if it is a currently unrealized goal of the community, are there concrete ways of including diverse people in the heart of the spiritual community? If not, why not? A good beginning might be a very frank conversation among the community members and leadership about this issue and what may be getting in the way. There are consultants who can assist with this process, and there are programs within the New Thought organizations to provide guidance, support, and assistance.

Transformative change is never a painless process. But clear intentions and people who are doing deep work can work what would otherwise appear to be miracles.

“Only people with petty minds indulge in racial hatreds and distinctions. God’s perfect idea of man is the basis for every living soul, and we must believe this and act as though it were so. When we dislike people and groups, we are bearing witness to our small and limited viewpoints. The people in whom we fail to find good are born of the same Mind, operate under the same Law, and express the same Life as we do. Our inability to see their divine origin is our self-created stumbling block. Often, we are held back by our petty dislikes of other people.”

~ Ernest Holmes, “Guide to Richer Living”

 I have asked Tracy Brown, author of the recently published book, STAINED GLASS SPIRIT (LINK), to be a guest blogger here and to add her inspired thinking to the conversation. Look for that post in the near future.

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

I am pleased to announce that my two books, SACRED THINKING, and CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY will soon be available in Spanish. I owe thanks for this to a number of people who I will mention in the near future.

 

 

 

Advertisements

THE CHALLENGE OF DEVELOPING A MORE DIVERSE & INCLUSIVE SPIRITUAL COMMUNITY, PART 3

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

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

In Parts 1 & 2 (LINK) (LINK), we explored the overall idea of diversity and inclusion and a macro view, the larger cultural patterns which got us where we are and which we must recognize if we are to be effective in expanding diversity and bringing inclusion to our New Thought spiritual communities. In Part 3, I explore how the culture and values of the local spiritual community affects these efforts.

Cartoon - Diversity - my-kinda-church_2

The culture of the spiritual community is perhaps the most critical element because it determines every aspect of the behaviors and expectations of its members. Whether or not a spiritual community is even open to greater diversity is determined by its culture. Think of the group culture as a combination of the individual belief systems present and the historically encultured traditions and values of the spiritual community. This embodied culture is what greets the newcomer and lets the long-time member recognize the community even though there has been a lot of turnover in membership. This culture is both conscious and unconscious; it is somewhat fluid but also generally stable in nature. New members are taught about the culture informally and perhaps formally in New Member Classes.

One thing which is evident by looking at most New Thought spiritual communities – the local cultures tend to lead to little or no diversity in terms of race, ethnicity, LGBTQIA+, and even age. The fact that this is the reality means that the culture, most likely unconsciously, has simply continued to support a cultural belief in sameness. While me must consider macro and demographic factors as noted in Part 2 (LINK) of this series, it is very likely that any desire for diversity has not been matched by a change in the cultural consciousness.

Cartoon - Church Diversity

As we will see in Part 4 with individual consciousness, group cultures benefit by having a strong conscious awareness of what the culture consists of. Otherwise, people may feel unwelcome at the same time that community members are trying to welcome them. A newcomer’s experience of a spiritual community will be a combination of her experience of the collective culture as expressed AND the individuals she encounters who express their own consciousness, some of which will reflect the collective culture and some of which may not.

Some things to consider: Is there a strong inner circle in your spiritual community who create barriers to “outsiders”? Are the social functions geared toward one particular group? What about age-consciousness in your community? Are young people respected for what they think or treated like children? Are LGBTQIA+ or cis-gendered people made to feel like outsiders? Does the spiritual leader show preferences in terms of which social activities are attended and which affinity groups are visited? Are there efforts to have diversity on the platform and on important committees in the spiritual community?

I was once a spiritual leader of a center in a rather wealthy area. I met a man socially and after we had a discussion on spirituality, invited him to attend one Sunday. He did. I entered the auditorium that next Sunday and saw him sitting in a seat next to a woman, a long-time member of the community, who had her arm around him and told me, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of this one!” Needless to say, we never saw him again at our center. The woman, who understood what should be done to make people feel welcomed, ignored that understanding for some reason. So, in that case, while the collective culture may have been a good fit for the man, at least one individual he encountered led him to decide to avoid our spiritual community from that point forward.

 

These kinds of individual incidents will happen under the best circumstances, but hopefully, they become teachable moments for leadership. The path to greater diversity and inclusion can be a long one for some communities. There must be both an openness to the idea and follow-through with cultural changes, which can and do take time.

“We are not summoned to perfection; that is the realm of the gods; we are summoned to mindfulness, to such fields of divine reference with sensitivity, respect, and humility.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst,

Finding Meaning in the Second Half of Life

Being mindful of creating sacred space in spiritual community should be at the top of the list for spiritual leadership in establishing the atmosphere in which people show up and are welcomed. While we can never do this perfectly, a regular reinforcement of the principles of mindful community should be expressed and exemplified by spiritual leadership, both ministers and lay leaders. Otherwise, the community becomes more of a social club with all of the unconscious aspects and biases of that kind of life. Conscious awareness of the sacred nature of the spiritual community, its activities, and of service in that community are essential. Sacred service, rather than volunteering, should be the norm, and sacred service implies that service is a spiritual practice.

No matter how well-meaning we may be, we bring our biases to spiritual community. Unconscious attitudes have a way of showing up and all too frequently, can lead to those who would bring diversity to a spiritual community feeling diminished or separated from the group. I had a young adult tell me once that he no longer attended the New Thought center he loved because older people treated him like their grandson, even pinching his cheek (!) – he was nearly 30 years old. I am certain that that act was both well-meaning and unconscious – and it drove him away. When we unconsciously project our own needs onto others, we do not see them for who they are, rather for who we need or want them to be. This will be described in greater depth in Part 4.

“Diversity may be the hardest thing for a society to live with, and perhaps the most dangerous thing for a society to be without.”

~ William Sloan Coffin, Jr.

 

“Our unwillingness to see our own faults and the projection of them onto others is the source of most quarrels, and the strongest guarantee that injustice, animosity, and persecution will not easily die out.”

~ C.G. Jung, “Depth Psychology and Self-Knowledge”

 We learn in New Thought that nothing changes on the outside until something changes on the inside. The idea that a spiritual community which is lacking in diversity can simply announce that it is open and welcoming and that diversity will manifest is contrary to the principles of New Thought. For an outer change to manifest, an inner change must occur. If diversity is not present, and could be present, then a change in consciousness which removes the invisible barrier to the new manifestation must occur.

diversity

The work of creating a meaningful invitation to diversity is difficult and can be painful. Confronting one’s biases always is. And it is only the first step, for when diverse people start showing up, how will they be included? Tokenism serves no one. Forced inclusion may be necessary at first, however, that is a sign that deeper spiritual work is needed. The culture of the spiritual community must be genuinely open to the work necessary to make this shift from the limited past to a more open future. There is one level of collective culture which may be open to diversity, but a higher level of openness may be needed to establish true inclusion.

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

~ Rumi

Inclusion-strategy

In Part 4, I will explore the individual element – how our own biases can sabotage our best efforts to bring greater diversity and inclusion – and how to heal those issues.

“We are continuously being drawn into situations or circumstances, sometimes against our objective will, but seldom against our unconscious willing. Most of our mental imagery is unconscious. It comes either from previous experiences or the experiences of the race. There is much in the subconscious of which the intellect is not aware, but one thing is certain, our subjective or unconscious thought patterns can be changed. We have created them and we can change them.” 

~ Ernest Holmes, The Art of Life

As always, your comments along the way are encouraged! As are stories of success or lack of success in doing this work in your own spiritual communities. Please share this post with others who may find it of interest.

Copyright 2019- Jim Lockard

 

MY BOOK ON AMAZON:

A CALLING IS NOT A JOB, IT IS A VOCATION

“Vocation does not mean a goal that I pursue. It means a calling that I hear. Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling the who I am. I must listen for the truths and values at the heart of my own identity, not the standards by which I must live — but the standards by which I cannot help but live if I am living my own life.”

~ Parker Palmer 

Calling to Ministry

Those who are called to ministry as a vocation, a way of life to which they are totally committed, are doing something which is beyond choice. A calling is not a decision, it is far deeper than that. A calling may be in harmony with one’s inclinations or with society’s expectations, but that is often not the case. Often, a calling seems to be against everything one is seeking at the moment. Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on the denial of the call.

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

~ Joseph Campbell

But following your calling is no guarantee of bliss either. What Campbell means by bliss is the experience of expressing your true self via some channel of expression that serves a larger purpose. But while that is not an easy thing to do, it beats living in the bitterness of a calling denied.

My dear friend and colleague, Rev. Linda Finley, of the Center for Spiritual Living Eugene (Oregon), recently posted something on Facebook about her calling to a vocation of ministry. A few quotes from that post:

“Of late, I have been realizing that, at some level, the role of a Minister/Pastor/Spiritual Leader is not wholly understood by a lot of folks. Choosing to serve in any ministry, and especially, I feel, pulpit ministry is not now and never has been “a job.” I keep coming up against folks who view it as such, and it is disheartening. When I was ordained, I went through a ceremony that, in a lot of ways, looked like a wedding – I exchanged vows with a teaching and pledged to hold my faith and that teaching sacred. My accountability and my allegiance is to God, then to the organization which licensed and ordained me and sets standards and practices for my work, then to the congregation that hired me to serve them, and finally, to whatever Board that congregation has elected at any given time.”

“When we were finishing Ministerial training, we were advised that if we had any other skills at all, we might look at those – maybe card dealing or insurance sales… as this was taking on a role that could be overwhelming and thankless. As I move into September, which marks my 19th year in Ministry, I am grateful I made the choice … I love what I do. I love the teaching, the speaking, the counseling, even the leadership meetings and events where my introvert self wants to find a corner to crawl into!”

Linda’s recognition of her calling may have come at any point in her life, but she entered ministry after an earlier career. This is often the case, either because our younger selves did not recognize our calling, or we ignored it because it seems inconvenient. Or, it can be that the calling arises later in life – midlife is often a time for this emergence.

“The most regretful people on earth are those who felt the call to creative work, who felt their own creative power restive and uprising, and gave to it neither power nor time.”

~ Mary Oliver

Ministry is creative work. It can be done in a multitude of settings, using a multitude of approaches. It does not have to be one’s livelihood; in fact, one often has a “job” to pay the expenses of following a calling which does not provide a living wage. As Mary Oliver echoes Joseph Campbell in reflecting on the denial of our calling, we can see the effects of this denial throughout our society – people in soul-crushing jobs, without spiritual direction, hating their lives because they have denied themselves the spark of expressing one’s true calling in this life.

Many in ministry today are struggling to see how their calling relates to the changes unfolding in our society; changes which make ministry very unpredictable and call for a greater consciousness of innovation and willingness to let go of what no longer works.

“The church of yesterday cannot meet the needs of today, nor be prepared to adapt to the needs of tomorrow. ‘The past is the past…,’ no matter how wonderful. Precious memories are just that…precious and memories. We must look to the future if we are to continue to be faithful to our calling.”

~ Rev. Dr. Grant Lynn Ford, Metropolitan Community Church

My prediction is that these changing times are more of a challenge to those who see ministry as a job and do not have a true calling to the work. To those who did not experience the transformation of the “wedding,” via ordination, of oneself to the expression of the calling – perhaps because there was no calling to ministry to begin with. There is no shame in realizing that one is not following their calling – but to continue along that same path once that realization has dawned is to court an empty life. Harsh but true.

Only you know what your calling is – ministry is my focus, but you can be called to anything which calls forth the best of yourself and is in service to something larger. Everyone has a calling, and it may shift over your lifespan. The key is to be open to the signs which your psyche, your mind, and your body will give to you. And follow them.

Beautiful Staircase

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

HOW CAN YOUR MIND HEAL WHEN THE PROBLEM IS YOUR MIND?

“It is our own mental attitude which makes the world what it is for us. Our thoughts make things beautiful, our thoughts make things ugly. The whole world is in our own minds. Learn to see things in the proper light.”

~ Swami Vivekananda

During my 36 years as a psychotherapist, I’ve seen many clients who have been victims of people like those Hannah and my friend describe. I call them New Age Bullies — those who, sometimes with the best intentions, repeat spiritual movement shibboleths, with little understanding of how hurtful their advice can be. Some of their favorite clichés are:

It happened for a reason.

Nobody can hurt you without your consent.

I wonder why you created this illness (or experience).

It’s just your karma.

There are no accidents.

There are no victims.

There are no mistakes.

A variant of this behavior is found in the self-bullying people who blame themselves for being victims of a crime, accident, or illness and interpret such misfortunes as evidence of their personal defects or spiritual deficiencies.”

~ Julia Ingram, MA (LINK)

The two quotes above may seem to be contradictory, but they are not.

They represent two prevalent viewpoints in New Thought, one more traditional, the other something new which is emerging (I know that we are not New Age, per se, however, Ms. Ingram’s quote does apply). They lead me to this question (and lots of others, as you shall see):

If thought is the pathway to healing, what happens when your capacity to think, or to think clearly, is itself impaired in some way?

Today, we know much more about the functioning of the human brain and body than was known at the time of New Thought’s founders. We know that depression is very often not the result of “depressing thoughts,” but due to neurological/chemical imbalances. When under the effects of these imbalances, a person may not be able to form the kinds of thoughts necessary for healing the condition. She/he may also be incapable of seeking help. While this is different from the person who has developed a pattern of negative thinking and who can change with intention and practice, this difference may well not be obvious to external observers.

 

 

 

 

While New Thought teachings say that every condition can be healed, there is evidence that this is not so, and to insist that it is so can be cruel and can deny the process which a person is experiencing. More and more, New Thought spiritual leaders are being confronted with people who are finding many of the absolutist positions and statements of the past to be inaccurate and sometimes harmful.

This statement by Joel Goldsmith speaks to the realization that to truly facilitate healing, one must think in the absolute, not the relative domain – a sentiment echoed by Thomas Troward, Emma Curtis Hopkins, and many others.

“Let us never accept a human being into our consciousness who needs healing, employing, or enriching because if we do, we are his enemy instead of his friend. If there is any man, woman, or child we believe to be sick, sinning or dying, let us do no praying until we have made peace with that brother. The peace we must make with that brother is to ask forgiveness for making the mistake of sitting in judgment on any individual because everyone is God in expression. All is God manifested. God alone constitutes this universe; God constitutes the life, the mind, and the Soul of every individual.”

~ Joel Goldsmith

  • Is there a balance available to us – somewhere between the extremes of “absolute knowing” and belief that our power lies outside of us and we are helpless?
  • A balance which still allows healing for those able to think at the necessary level of clarity, but does not diminish those who may not be willing or able to do so at present, or ever?
  • Is there a more compassionate way to approach mental healing which allows for both beginners and adepts, and for those who experience inner processes which rob them of their ability to use thought to heal?
  • What is the growing edge of New Thought in relation to healing?

The basis of mental healing is to create a consciousness, or a system of beliefs, which is strong enough to change conditions. In the case of physical healing, that means changing conditions in our bodies via a mind-body connection. This often defies our previous conditioning. I came into the Science of Mindteaching with a consciousness that I was subject to external forces – like germs – which, when contracted, required an outside expert – a doctor – to facilitate healing on my behalf. Over time, I came to see that I had the capacity to both heal many conditions myself, and to create a consciousness which avoided many negative conditions altogether. I no longer experienced regular seasonal colds, for example.

While this capacity to heal is authentic, there is also the issue of how we see our evolving capacities – what should I be able to heal and when? Should I feel shame if I contract the flu or if a lover leaves me, or if I lose my job? How should I approach others who are experiencing such conditions if I am not their spiritual teacher, but a friend? How should I approach them if I am their spiritual teacher, with the accountability inherent in such a relationship? Will I simply project my own insecurities onto them and use (or even simply think) some platitude like What’s in your consciousness? as a means of deflecting my own fears?

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

~ Marion Woodman

It is our fear that leads us to “sugar coat” things. Like death, for example. We speak of “transitioning” and “passing on,” avoiding the term “death.” When my daughter died at age 18, many people were quick to tell me about her afterlife experience and how she chose that moment to depart this plane. Our belief system may include a continuing journey of the soul; however, we really don’t know what that is beyond speculation. Ernest Holmes had this to say about reincarnation:

“This idea of reincarnation is held by more people than those who don’t believe in it. Personally, I don’t believe in it, but I don’t know. So I would be ignorant to be dogmatic about it.”

~ From a 1933 Lecture by Ernest Holmes based upon

The Science of Mind, 1926 Edition

 

 

 

 

But we don’t like not knowing, so we speculate. While I appreciated the attempt at kindness from many after my daughter’s death, it was often painful to be told how she chose this to happen and, as one told me, “she misses you but wants you to know that she is in a better place.” There were others, but you get the picture.

When we sugar coat the issues of life, we often, if unintentionally, diminish the experience of those we are trying to comfort or help. It is a fine and difficult line to walk – how to give solace or inspiration to someone without loading it with my own fearful projections? How to deal with repeated failures by someone to heal an illness or to get their life in order without making it more about me than about them? How to balance the need for personal accountability with someone’s current inability to accept that concept for themselves?

As in all things, I believe that we must begin by doing our own inner work. We must grow in emotional and spiritual intelligence, we must recognize our own fears, addictions, and biases and work to release them. They will surely affect our ability to be a compassionate and wise presence for others. As spiritual teachers, we must set and enforce healthy boundaries regarding issues such as who moves into professional-level classes, and how inappropriate behavior is dealt with in all classes. Many of us need to work on our ability to say NO. A proper NO can be the most affirming thing you can say many times.

In conclusion – we want to teach New Thought principles and practices as widely as possible, however, there are some who are not ready. We must realize that when we reduce our insistence on developing a strength of consciousness necessary for healing because some find it too difficult or take offense, that we may be harming all of our students. And we must try to work with those who are offended or depressed by the rigors of the teaching so that they can come to see a greater truth and not feel diminished – while knowing this may not be possible in their lives at the present moment.

Beautiful Tree in Lake

The high calling of spiritual teacher means that one says YES to the requirement for ongoing personal development, for setting and enforcing healthy boundaries, and for working for the good of all students who come to learn. Nothing less will do. And that means having people in our ministries with issues which do not get healed. While frustrating, it does not relieve the teacher of the accountability to be the best living example of the spiritual teachings that she can be. We continue to do prayer-treatment for them, to express compassion toward them, but we may never see a healing occur for them.

“If we think we can guide our brother aright, while our own feet still walk in darkness, we are mistaken. We must first clarify our own vision, then we shall become as lights, lighting the way for others. But can we teach a lesson we have not learned? Can we give that which we do not possess? To suppose so is hypocrisy, a thing to be shunned. Jesus tears the mantle of unreality from the shoulders of hypocrisy, winnowing from the soul of sham and shallowness its last shred of illusion. We cannot see Reality until our eyes are open; until the light of eternal Truth has struck deeply into our own souls.”

~ Ernest Holmes, THE HIDDEN POWER OF THE BIBLE

As always, your comments are appreciated!

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

 

 

WHEN SPIRITUAL BYPASS BECOMES SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE, PART 1

“Spiritual bypassing, a term first coined by psychologist John Welwood in 1984, is the use of spiritual practices and beliefs to avoid dealing with our painful feelings, unresolved wounds, and developmental needs. It is much more common than we might think and, in fact, is so pervasive as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more obvious extremes.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, Spiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag

“There are people who have an amazing knowledge of themselves…. But even those people wouldn’t be capable of knowing what is going on in their unconscious.”

~ C.G. Jung

I offer two maxims to guide the reader through this series of posts, which will cover some difficult and uncomfortable terrain.

  1. We are more driven by unconscious patterns and impulses than we realize.
  2. Spiritual Bypassing is common in New Thought spiritual communities.

The first maxim is one which can be seen as limiting some of what we are often taught in New Thought – that we can bring everything to conscious awareness and direct (or re-direct) any aspect of our lives using positive thinking. While our ability to change our unconscious mind is real, it is not an absolute; that is, we cannot empty our unconscious of its contents. The unconscious is too vast to bring fully into conscious awareness, and aspects of our inner psyche which affect everything from our perception to our decision-making, will remain beyond our awareness. At best, we can bring up what most needs to be healed and make the needed changes to develop a consciousness which is more of a representation of our best selves.

This brings up the idea of free will, and the degree to which we are completely free to perceive and decide, with no unconscious conditioning or biases affecting our seeming freedom to choose (LINK to Scientific American Article). As the most recent research shows (LINK), our unconscious conditioning has a greater effect on us than we realize – and must be considered as we do our spiritual and psychological practices. We must look deeper and more closely at ourselves or we miss the evidence of our unconscious conditioning and biases.

“Consciousness, no matter how extensive it may be, must always remain the smaller circle within the greater circle of the unconscious, an island surrounded by the sea; and, like the sea itself, the unconscious yields an endless and self-replenishing abundance of living creatures, a wealth beyond our fathoming. ”

~ Carl Jung, Psychology of the Transference

Ernest Holmes emphasizes the importance of using our conscious mind to program our unconscious, because the objective (conscious) reflects the subjective (unconscious) mind.

“The objective form to which we give our attention is created from the very attention which we give it. The objective is but the reflection of the subject state of thought. Life is a blackboard upon which we consciously or unconsciously write those messages which govern us. We hold the chalk and the eraser in our hand but are ignorant of this fact.”

~ Ernest Holmes

The first maxim is important in helping us to both understand the essence of the second maxim and to create a practice of compassion around our approach to it. Almost all spiritual bypassing is unconsciously driven; bringing this to the awareness of someone engaging in bypassing must be done compassionately to have the best chance of meeting a willingness to change within that person or persons. As we begin to address the second maxim, I encourage the reader to hold this in mind.

Regarding the second maxim, I am guided here, at least in part, by two articles which awakened something within me – some of which I was aware, and some of which I was unaware. In other words, more of my blind spots (LINK) became apparent. I think they are worth addressing here, both for my own benefit and for the benefit of those who read this, so an increased level of awareness may result. They are (both titles are hotlinks):

Spiritual Bypassing: Avoidance in Holy Drag by Robert Augustus Masters, PhD (he also authored a book with the same title)

and

When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting, by Camille Williams – this article will be the focus of Part 2 of this series.

“Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many ways, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow elements, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

With this definition of spiritual bypassing in hand, we can begin to explore how it manifests within a New Thought setting. It is helpful here to have some knowledge of Spiral Dynamics, especially the Green Level of Existence (LINK). Although bypassing can occur at any stage on the spiral, Green, because of its feelings-based nature, is particularly prone to several of the manifestations noted in Masters’ quote above, especially “overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries.”

So, spiritual bypassing is the opposite of authenticity. It is the often-unconscious desire to have everything appear to be what one desires at the expense of dealing with inner and outer realities. It can be used to stifle conflict or differing viewpoints (as in calling a group to prayer-treatment at the first sign of conflict); to deny realities such as financial lack or a decline in the capabilities of aging leaders; to maintain unconscious patterns of discrimination; or to create a false sense of security so that one or a group does not have to face a difficult reality or decision.

At its core, however, spiritual bypassing is a refusal to do the deep work necessary for true spirituality to express in a person or community. We are all, to one degree or another, terrified of the power within us. Bringing it forth in a more complete and authentic way, which most of us claim to desire, would also cause chaos in the order of our present lives. Nothing would be safe. Those in spiritual leadership are not free of this fear, nor are they necessarily more spiritually authentic than anyone else (LINK). In fact, much of what goes on in spiritual community is going through the motions of a surface piety to some theological principles while being careful not to upset the comfort zones of ourselves and others.

“True spirituality is not a high, not a rush, not an altered state. It has been fine to romance it for a while, but our times call for something far more real, grounded, and responsible; something radically alive and naturally integral; something that shakes us to our very core until we stop treating spiritual deepening as a something to dabble in here and there. Authentic spirituality is not some little flicker or buzz of knowingness, not a psychedelic blast-through or a mellow hanging-out on some exalted plane of consciousness, not a bubble of immunity, but a vast fire of liberation, an exquisitely fitting crucible and sanctuary, providing both heat and light for what must be done. Most of the time when we’re immersed in spiritual bypassing, we like the light but not the heat, doing whatever we can to distance ourselves from the flames.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

To be sure, everyone in a spiritual community is unlikely to want to live at that level. There are lots of reasons for this and finding even a handful of people who are willing to go deep into themselves and stir up shadow selves is a challenge. A spiritual community which can accommodate that smaller group within its larger community will have a source of richness missing in most communities. To do this requires attuned leadership who have credibility with those on a deeper and more authentic spiritual pathway. Such leaders are also rare.

“Is not the shadow of a group more than the sum of individual shadows, and might it not create a whole new dimension of unconsciousness?”

~ James Hollis, Author & Jungian Analyst

What is important to gain from this post is that spiritual bypass is common, it is mostly unconscious, and it is a big turn-off to those who seek authenticity in their spiritual leaders and spiritual community. It is also an obstacle to achieving significant mission-centric expression. Here is where we get to utilize our free will to direct ourselves in a more authentic direction. Leaders can empower their members to speak up when they suspect spiritual bypass, and train themselves and others how to compassionately respond when others are not being authentic. This approach will go a long way toward aligning a spiritual community to create #TheBelovedCommunity.

“To truly outgrow spiritual bypassing—which in part means releasing spirituality (and everything else!) from the obligation to make us feel better or more secure or more whole—we must not only see it for what it is and cease engaging in it but also view it with genuine compassion, however fiery that might be or need to be. The spiritual bypasser in us needs not censure nor shaming but rather to be consciously and caringly included in our awareness without being allowed to run the show. Becoming intimate with our own capacity for spiritual bypassing allows us to keep it in healthy perspective.”

~ Robert Augustus Masters, PhD

“The more ‘enlightened’ we believe ourselves to be, the vaster we discover that which remains unconscious.”

~ James Hollis, Jungian analyst

In Part 2 of this series, we will look at the more destructive elements of spiritual bypassing, the things which can tear a spiritual community apart.

As always, your comments are welcomed below. Please feel free to share this post with others who may be interested. If you like, you can sign up to follow the blog above and receive an email whenever a new post is published.

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

NOTE: I used several quotes by Robert Augustus Masters in this post. At the time, I was generally unfamiliar with his work, other than an article on spiritual bypassing. I have since learned that he has admitted to abuse of students and members of a group which he led. I will not be referring to him or to his work again. – Jim Lockard October 2018

 

 

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

 

THRIVING SKILL: POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 2

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

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

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

Polarity Management 9

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Define the issue.

  2. Include key stakeholders.

  3. Build the polarity map.

  4. Understand how polarities work.

  5. Assess realities with this polarity.

  6. Determine action steps and early warnings.

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

Polarity Management 10

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

Beautiful Flower - Water Lilly

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

~ Anaïs Nin

Your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 

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

Positive Gathering Jan 2018

THRIVING SKILL: MASTERING POLARITY MANAGEMENT, PART 1

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

~ Unknown

Complex Problem

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

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

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

~ C.G. Jung

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarity Management 5.png

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

Polarity Management 6

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

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

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

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

~ Barry Johnson

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

Polarities Statement

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

Your comments are always welcomed!

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

THRIVING SKILL: BUILDING AND SUSTAINING COMMUNITY

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

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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

Poster - Beloved

These times require evolutionary thinking:

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

~ R. Buckminster Fuller

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

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

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

~ Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

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

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

~ Rev. Bruce Sanguin

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

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

 ~ C.G. Jung

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

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

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

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

~ Malcolm Gladwell, The Tipping Point

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

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

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

~ Jim Lockard, CREATING THE BELOVED COMMUNITY

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

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard