COMPASSION MEANS EXTENDING THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT

“We need to strengthen such inner values as contentment, patience and tolerance, as well as compassion for others. Keeping in mind that it is expressions of affection rather than money and power that attract real friends, compassion is the key to ensuring our own well-being.”

~ Dalai Lama XIV 

 The Dalai Lama’s statement is true at both the individual and collective levels. If we are to move forward as humanity, we will have to find ways to be together which are life-affirming, sustainable, and imbued with wisdom. Finding our way forward in the face of so many challenges (climate collapse, racism, sexism, nationalism, slavery, rogue capitalism, and so on) seems daunting as people harden their worldviews and so often demonize those who see things differently. Polarization is increasing in many places resulting in greater difficulties in connecting across divisions of value systems.

What separates us is our fear and ignorance – of ourselves and of one another. What separates us is our response to our woundedness and the sensitive emotional (and sometimes physical) scar tissue which we have developed, too often making us blind defenders of our worldviews. We so often fail to see that our knowledge is always limited and at least a little bit misinformed, and this is true of those with opposite worldviews as well. At a minimum, we need more self-awareness so that we can at least see others more clearly and less as reflections of our own repressed energies.

To have compassion is to see from Oneness, to feel genuine empathy for others, to practice ongoing forgiveness of self and others, to hold others harmless and to wish them well, despite our disagreements. It does not mean that we let others harm us, in fact, people who are self-compassionate do not abuse others and they REFUSE TO BE ABUSED themselves. Until we develop self-compassion, our sense of connection to others will be but a projection from a wounded self – and not very substantial.

“You have to do the work to develop real empathy. There’s a cost to evolving: if you want your soul to cross the line, there’s no way around emotional work. Face that deep pain, and you gain tremendous compassion for yourself. You feel compassion for those who have hurt you because they were hurt themselves. To really make yourself available to consciously create a new future, you have to do that work.”

~ Bruce Sanguin

I am currently in the final month of a nine-month program, teaching a group of private students what I call “metaphysical psychology.” A key element of the program is a deep dive into Shadow and emotional work. There is no coming to consciousness without this kind of work. Sorry, but that is the case. Deep spiritual work is essential to deal with our inevitable sense of being wounded in our lives. Until we heal our emotional selves, we will project our fears, hurt, and anger onto others, making compassion impossible and prolonging our state of human conflict. Giving the benefit of the doubt does not release one from accountability, it simply acknowledges our humanness.

Forgiveness is an essential element for developing compassion. Ongoing, daily, moment-by-moment forgiveness of self and others is a practice worth pursuing. Again, this does not mean a denial of accountability, but it does mean a refusal to diminish self or others with guilt and shame. Being at our best means being in a state of forgiveness. Otherwise, we continue to project our woundedness onto others.

Forgive Stone

We are not, at base, malevolent creatures, although when wounded, or when our sense of desperation exceeds our understanding of our true nature, we can act in malevolent ways. When we are healed and when we are compassionate, malevolent actions are impossible. The saying “hurt people hurt people” rings very true in this regard. We can do our best to express love and compassion to all, and we can learn to be unattached to how they respond. True compassion is never conditional. It is our natural way of being, given freely, without regard to its acceptance. The work is getting back to that primal state which exists within us, just below the scar tissue. It awaits us patiently as we do our work. It is the process of remembering who we really are and our true nature.

Have compassion for everyone you meet
even if they don’t want it. What seems conceit,
bad manners, or cynicism is always a sign
of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen.
You do not know what wars are going on
down there where the spirit meets the bone.

~ Miller Williams, “Compassion in The Ways We Touch”

 Developing the awareness that human dysfunction is not a natural state, but the result of fear, ignorance, and wounding is a rare quality in today’s world. It is, of course, also a way that we are given opportunities to learn and grow – but we must respond positively to those opportunities. Most people see behavior as a direct indication of who a person is, rather than the result of how the person has integrated their experiences into a personality. When we KNOW that there is a compassionate being in there beneath the fear and wounding, we can more easily be empathetic ourselves. Once we have developed true compassion, we will do this automatically and speak to the compassionate being inside the other person. This may be disconcerting to them, and it may also influence that aspect of the other person to come closer to the surface.

“Compassion is an unstable emotion. It needs to be translated into action, or it withers.”

~ Susan Sontag

Acting from compassion, even when automatic, can be frightening. Compassion leads us places where the guarded and comfortable will not go. It sees through appearances of fear and ignorance more easily, and it calls us to action rather than to complacency. It requires regular practices to keep it in mind and heart.

Chaos Compassion Bubble

To be godlike, to imitate Christ, to express Buddha consciousness, to be true to Islamic principles, and to embody the Science of Mind all require one to develop compassion. It is both the root and the destination of all spiritual practices across faith traditions. It is also the goal of the atheist. It is our ultimate destination as human beings. Today, humanity is calling out for compassion, but mostly unknowingly. We arm our nations’ militaries and reinforce our personal inner departments of defense (anger, hatred, buying weapons) when what we really want is to live in compassionate societies. In our ignorance and fear, we so often do exactly the opposite from what we need to do. If we really want #AWorldThatWorksForEveryone, we must do better.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.

If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

~ Dalai Lama XIV

Only those with the awareness of these truths will seek out their expression. So, if you are aware, you have an assignment – find your compassion, first for yourself and then for others. Do your spiritual work, daily and minute-by-minute. This is not just to be happy, but to be happy, fulfilled, and a contributor to the greater good. Become who you came into this incarnation to be and be a true force for expanded love and compassion in our world. Spirit has your back.

“When we practice generating compassion, we can expect to experience the fear of our pain. Compassion practice is daring. It involves learning to relax and allow ourselves to move gently toward what scares us. The trick to doing this is to stay with emotional distress without tightening into aversion, to let fear soften us rather than harden into resistance.”

~ Pema Chödrön

 

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

Register now for this great conference in Geneva this August!

Embracing Change:

A Pathway to Growth and Transformation

Lisa Ferraro and I are keynote presenters and there will be wonderful workshops from international presenters all in a gorgeous setting on Lake Geneva in view of the Alps!

LINK to info and registration:  https://www.icsl-geneva.com/ 

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PATIENCE AND DISCERNMENT – TWO THRIVING SKILLS FOR TODAY

“All (people) are liars, certainly. I just let them sit in that chair and lie till they get tired of lying. Then they begin to tell the truth.”

~ C.G. Jung 

Sign - Self Knowledge

We are easily misled. There are a number of reasons for this. We have internal biases which color our perception and make the world seem to agree with what we believe. We receive information which is incomplete or filtered by others with unconscious biases; this is particularly true of fast-moving news stories. Sometimes, we are deliberately misinformed, or given untruthful information by others who have been misinformed but do not know it.

This week there have been a few examples of people being misinformed or under-informed on mass scales. A group of teens in Washington, DC for a pro-life demonstration encounter a Native American activist and the first images posted convey something which, it turns out, is incomplete, if not totally inaccurate. Outrage spreads on social media and in other media. Many are triggered by this incident, me included, and fail to check our biases before passing the information along – me included.

 

The action of these biases on our perception is linked to the prejudices we hold. While there is clearly racism in the events pictured, none of us is looking at them through an unbiased lens. Racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of bigotry arise because we are easily misled, not only when young, as in the case of some of these teens, but when we are mature as well. If we do not develop qualities which remove our biases, we are well advised to mediate them. This requires a combination of patience and discernment.

Patience may allow us to wait for more information before interpreting and sharing something controversial or inflammatory. Discernment (LINK) may help us to better understand something from the position that we may not understand it fully to begin with – AND that we probably have some unconscious biases which are likely to take us further from the truth.

I believe that we are all complicit in allowing this kind of consciousness to be in power. The changes required are deep and challenging. There is a complex array of elements of human nature, both individual and collective, which affects both how we interact from our worldviews and how those worldviews develop. Each of us brings a unique perspective and set of biases, even if we may seem to be in two camps – left and right for example. When we fail to do our own inner work of seeking out and healing our own biases, we will surely contribute to the expression of those biases in the larger world, unconsciously if not intentionally.

We have failed the generation of young people who have been raised to see violence, hatred, bigotry, and power as part of a pathway to success in our culture. We have failed to teach compassion as a goal, kindness and honesty as acceptable behaviors (even in business!!), and discernment as a desirable skill. By example, we have shown them that ruthless, uncaring, and angry people who are wealthy or “successful” are role models – that might makes right, at least in some cases. And we show our own arrogance if we are angry at these children – they are after all our own creation.

“We are clearly at a long overdue moment in history where everyone, good hearted or not, will HAVE to look at themselves, the part they played in the past, the things they’ve seen, ignored, accepted as normal, or simply missed—and consider what side of history they want to be on in the future.”

~ Anthony Bourdain

Beautiful Moon 7

Compassionate, loving people are not weak, they are empowered. They do not abuse others and they refuse to be abused themselves. They stand up to corruption, dishonesty, and bigotry not from hatred, but from love. It takes years and lots of effort for most of us to mature to this level. Yet, there is no other way forward. Anything less guarantees that we keep producing new generations of fearful, weak, prejudiced people who do more harm than good in the world.

‎”Having compassion does not mean indiscriminately accepting or going along with others’ actions regardless of the consequences to ourselves or the world. It is about being able to say no where we need to without putting the other out of our hearts, without making the other less of a fellow human being. There is a difference between discerning and sometimes even opposing harmful behavior & making the other wrong – less than we are, less a part of that presence that is greater than ourselves – in our own minds & hearts.”

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

These children are my children. I cannot see them as “other” and hold them in compassion. I cannot condemn them, their parents, or their teachers without condemning myself. This is the lesson of unity and oneness upon which my spiritual teaching is built.

We must commit to our own healing so that we can each be a healing presence in our world and can remain centered in Truth even when the turbulent winds of conflict and crisis are blowing. It is through patience and discernment, thriving skills which are developed through daily spiritual practices, that we grow into our potential.

“Much of our inability to forgive others comes from a deep-seated inferiority complex. Often our antagonistic attitude toward others rises from a need within our own minds to be relieved of our unconscious sense of self-condemnation, as though we have such a burden of guilt within our minds that we can hardly bear it. And so, we project it to others just for the relief it gives ourselves.”

~ Ernest Holmes,

“Living the Science of Mind,” Chapter: “The Need for Forgiveness”

#Aworldthatworksforeveryone #TheBelovedCommunity

Copyright 2019 – Jim Lockard

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WHEN SPIRITUAL BYPASS BECOMES SPIRITUAL MALPRACTICE, PART 2

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

~ Camille Williams,

When Spiritual Bypassing Meets Racism Meets Gaslighting (LINK)

GASLIGHT - American Poster 6

The term GASLIGHTING comes from this film.

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

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

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

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

~ Camille Williams

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

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

~ Camille Williams

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

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

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

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

~ Richard Rohr

 

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

~ Heidi M. Kolb

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

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

Until we interrupt it.

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

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

 

Copyright 2017 – Jim Lockard

 NOTE: I referred to an article by Robert Augustus Masters, and to several quotes from that article in Part 1 of this series in this post. At the time, I was generally unfamiliar with his work, other than an article on spiritual bypassing. I have since learned that he has admitted to abuse of students and members of a group which he led. I will not be referring to him or to his work again. – Jim Lockard October 2018

WHEN THE TRUTH GETS REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE

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

~ Emma Curtis Hopkins, Scientific Christian Mental Practice

1a Michelle Wolf

Michelle Wolf – NYTimes photo

The uproar over comedian Michelle Wolf’s appearance at the Washington Correspondents’ Dinner the other night is the latest example of how our differing worldviews (NYTimes – LINK) (RedState -LINK) and our insecurity about them can mushroom into something both ugly and filled with potential. Our idea of truth is always influenced, if not wholly determined, by the worldview which we bring to any situation (as can be seen in the articles in the links above). This is something that we usually ignore or deny. We have had many such moments of contested “truth” across the globe in this time of disruption – this time of movement along the Spiral where the upward movement is driven by the creation of increasingly complex systems of technology and social structures. The concepts and worldviews we bring into changing times are insufficient to carry us through those times. We must adapt, creatively and, ideally, in healthy ways.

“One prerequisite for originality is clearly that a person shall not be inclined to impose his preconceptions on the fact as he sees it. Rather, he must be able to learn something new, even if this means that the ideas and notions that are comfortable or dear to him may be overturned.”

~ David Bohm

The usual responses from the political left and right emerged quickly on social and regular media, with many in the press being caught in the middle, fearing a further erosion of trust in them and their institutions. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion and no one has room for a different opinion than his or her own. The details of the situation are less important than how the incident reflects on the national and international mood these days – we are in a culture war, and a few shooting wars as well, and every position must be defended with volume and righteousness, despite the lack of evidence of many minds being changed on any side.

The complexity of life is an essential part of the evolutionary processes by which we, and the entire universe, develop. Complexity is a sign of growth, something to be nurtured, adapted to, and embraced. It is not to be confused with being complicated, which is something else altogether.

“I want to say that short circuiting complexity is never a good idea. It makes life complicated. Complicated and complex are not the same thing. Complex looks like an ocean; whole and alive with a vitality that is generated through interrelational, interdependent processes.”

~ Nora Bateson

Perhaps this is a good time to reflect on my own worldview(s) and to notice my reactions to things said and done, whether in actuality or on social media. This advice applies no matter my position on any issue, by the way. We could all do with a bit more honest introspection about our beliefs as well as our sensitivities to dissonance and discomfort. The world around us is struggling to grow toward a greater capability to support humanity on this planet, and this will require expanded capacities from us.

“You can get sympathy, or you can get better, but you can’t get both. You can be in your comfort zone or you can have growth, but you can’t have both. You can be interested, or you can be sold-out-committed, but you can’t entertain both. You can have excuses or have results, but you can’t do both. Choose the path that develops your visceral fortitude.”

~ Mario Cortes

Here, Cortes hits the nail on the proverbial head. We all design our response systems – the ways that we automatically react to behaviors and ideas – and we too seldom examine whether these systems are working for or against us. Once we have programmed our habitual ways of reacting, we are at the mercy of what we experience – the locus of control shifts from within to without – and we are at risk of continual disruption of our power to act wisely. We do this, mostly unconsciously, as a way of avoiding fear and discomfort – natural things to want to avoid. But in doing so, we often redesign our response system to avoid growth, because nothing new grows from comfort. Comfort is overrated.

“The invitation to accept the diamond of life is not an invitation to safety and comfort. It is an invitation to live life fully and completely, which is never safe and is often uncomfortable…’If I am safe enough, then I can relax.’ I am talking about recognizing that you can relax right now, even though you aren’t completely safe, and you never will be.”

~ Gangaji

Spirituality is not an invitation AWAY from life, it is an invitation TOWARD life. And the fullness of life is messy, glorious, uncomfortable, joyful, terrifying, and challenging. We are designed to adapt upward along the Spiral (LINK) toward greater and greater capacities for living fully in a complex world. There are, of course, times when we need to retreat for a time, to heal or to rest, but such times are the exception, not the norm. Thriving requires alignment of mind, heart, and action toward the greatest possible expression of personal potential. We serve creation by living fully, creatively, and with courage.

I Affirm

My affirming statement regarding this is:

I am free of the need and the capacity to be knocked off balance by the comments or actions of others. I see the need for all kinds of expression by those who are on their own path, or who may be trapped by unconscious biases. I help where I can but take no responsibility for the behaviors of others. My life is an unfolding affirmation of possibility. I do not react with fear, I respond with love. I am comfortable with who I am and willing to be uncomfortable in the fact of what I do not understand. I know that my good is not affected by the limitations of others unless I give them that power. I hold my power within, I continually scan my responses to ensure my consciousness is one of love, power, peace, and compassion.

Make your own version of this and repeat as needed. We who are on a spiritual pathway are called to be part of the ongoing resolution of humanity’s growing pains. We recognize the struggles of birth and know that they are a natural part of our experience. We resist nothing and accept only the good. All is well. Incidents such as Michelle Wolf’s comedy need not do anything other that lead us to take a deeper look within ourselves to see where we can express greater compassion.

Let us use our spiritual communities as places where we affirm all of this for ourselves. Let us put our energies into creating spaces of care, love, compassion – but also courage, strength, and engagement. Let us learn to be examples of how to be in the face of fear, fake news, narcissism, greed, and other examples of human frailties. Let us make a difference for good in some way, every day.

“I want to get more comfortable being uncomfortable. I want to get more confident being uncertain. I don’t want to shrink back just because something isn’t easy. I want to push back and make more room in the area between I can’t and I can.”

~ Kristin Armstrong

As always, your comments are welcome!

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

CAN SPIRITUAL PRINCIPLES OVERCOME FAKE NEWS?

“There is no such thing as harmless disinformation; trusting in falsehood can have dire consequences.”

~ Pope Francis on Twitter

Fake News is nothing new. We human beings have been twisting or ignoring facts determinedly seeing the world through our values and worldviews, accepting information which affirmed them and rejecting or ignoring information which contradicted them.

Meme - Fake News

At the same time, we have evolved along the spiral through various values systems (LINK to Spiral Dynamics post), including values systems which value truth as a moral imperative (Traditionalist-Blue, which emerged about 4,000 years ago). Violating such a values system was wrong, and many of our institutions developed out of the Blue Code felt a duty to be honest, as did individuals within that values system. You may be old enough to remember when CBS News Anchorman Walter Cronkite was considered “the most trusted man in America” in the 1960’s.

Pope Francis represents the Roman Catholic Church, an institution with Traditionalist-Blue values at its heart. The Church is struggling in the developed western nations where Traditionalist-Blue values are being replaced with Modernist-Orange values. Modernism is a Code which values the individual at the expense of the masses – so within this values system honesty is less of a prime value than self-interest; only in so far as healthy Blue Code values have been retained will one put his or her own self-interest in a secondary position to the truth.

VMEMEs Simplified

When a society is at Blue, a liar stands out as being wrong or evil. When a society is primarily at Orange, a liar may be seen as simply protecting his own self-interest (as in court, for example, where putting your case in the best light for yourself is at least equally important to getting to the truth).

When our institutions become the source of Fake News, it is a sign that truth is not valued as it should be. This is a time when spiritual principles become more important than ever in guiding us in our actions and in our reactions.

“The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what’s true.”

~ Carl Sagan

 

 

In our increasingly complex world, where trust in institutions is eroding, it becomes more difficult to determine what is true and what is not. What is different today than in the past is that the use of misinformation to deliberately affect social and cultural life has expanded greatly. Getting to what is true requires greater discernment (LINK) than in the past. There are no Walter Cronkites, who have the trust of most people, any more.

“People say: ‘Let the facts speak for themselves’; they forget that the speech of facts is real only if it is heard and understood. It is thought to be an easy matter to distinguish between fact and theory, between perception and interpretation. In truth, it is extremely difficult. When the level of the knower is not adequate to the level (or grade of significance) of the object of knowledge, the result is not factual error but something much more serious: an inadequate and impoverished view of reality.”

~ E.F. Schumacher, A Guide for the Perplexed

I don’t know about you, but I feel a need to go in a thousand different directions to be responsive to the world that is unfolding around me. There are so many causes, so many outrages, so many sad and deplorable things happening that it is hard to keep up, much less act in an affirmative and effective way. I can only imagine what it must be like to face all of this without a sound set of spiritual principles on which to base my thoughts, feelings, and actions. I am afraid for our nation, for our world, for nature, and for our planet.

“Fear is a natural consequence of moving closer to the truth.”

~ Pema Chödrön

The New Thought spiritual principles that I have studied and embodied, and am still working to embody more deeply, give me a foundation of belief and trust in a Power Greater than myself. If I do my work to come into alignment with a greater Truth, and to clear myself of the fear and ignorance which cloud my judgement and limit my ability to see clearly, then I can live a life that is both personally fulfilling and of contribution to the world around me. If find that this work is best done in harmony with a spiritual community of evolutionary souls who seek to express their own best selves – a New Thought Spiritual Community of any denomination will serve that purpose. We need to be in community, in part because human beings are “relational animals,” we need connection. In the giving and receiving of support in following our spiritual pathway, we accelerate our progress when in community. We see that we are not alone.

Naturally, my personal inner work is of paramount importance. In challenging times (and times of rapid change are always challenging) I must build a strong foundation of radical self-acceptance of spiritual principles. I must be strong enough and wise enough to discern reality from Fake News; clear enough and powerful enough to speak from my authentic voice and be a champion for Love and Compassion.

Also, I must be flexible about the form things take, while being firm about the application of spiritual principles. Change means that things will look different – forms change to accommodate a higher idea of the application of principle. In this closing quote, Dr. Holmes is speaking about the essence of Truth in principle, not the form which it’s expressions will take. Fake News cannot withstand the application of True Principles.

“Stay with the One and never deviate from It, never leave It for a moment. Nothing else can equal this attitude. TO DESERT THE TRUTH IN THE HOUR OF NEED IS TO PROVE THAT WE DO NOT KNOW THE TRUTH. When things look the worst, that is the supreme moment to demonstrate, to ourselves, that there are no obstructions to the operation of Truth. When things look the worst is the best time to work, the most satisfying time. The person who can throw himself with a complete abandon into that Limitless Sea of Receptivity, having cut loose from all apparent moorings, is the one who will always receive the greatest reward.”

~ Ernest Holmes, The Science of Mind, page 283

 

Copyright 2018 – Jim Lockard

 

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ON DIALOG, LISTENING, AND CREATING COMMUNION

The election just past has (temporally, at least), raised clouds of dust in many circles, especially for those who define themselves as progressives (myself included). Many who thought we were on a more-or-less uninterrupted trajectory toward greater progress for humanity (and yes, I can hear the gods laughing), were jolted toward a different explanation of reality.

Almost immediately, progressives of all stripes began to wonder what they had missed – what were those who voted for the Republican candidate thinking and feeling? What were their experiences? Why did they feel left behind (if, in fact, they did)?

And we began to wonder what we did wrong, how we contributed, knowingly or not to this result.

The Spiral Dynamics™ Model (LINK) offers some valuable insight, but it is only partial. It says that the Democratic candidate spoke largely to the Modernist-Orange and Postmodernist-Green levels on the spiral, while the Republican candidate targeted those from Tribal-Purple, Egotist-Red, Traditionalist-Blue, and into Modernist-Orange. When we remember that we carry forward aspects of the levels on the spiral that we have left behind (transcend and include), we see that those at Blue and Orange may have strong strains of Purple and Red values operating in their personal values systems. The messages of nationalism and protection of traditional values were strong incentives for many.

And afterward, the tendency for self-examination is strong at the levels above Traditionalist-Blue, and is relatively rare at that level and below. Therefore, many progressives are questioning themselves while many conservatives are not. There are, of course, conservatives who are at Orange on the spiral, but fewer at Green; and Green very much values introspection and self-analysis.

The question, of course, is how to go forward. How do we move from a fractured nation to one that is more connected, if still very pluralistic in its values systems? Two articles from Brain Pickings (LINK) and (LINK) sparked my thinking in this direction. They speak to the possibility of the development of dialog and the need for the development of true listening. Here are some quotes from the articles, which I suggest that you read in full and follow links on the Brain Pickings blog that may interest you.

“Different groups … are not actually able to listen to each other. Thus, the very attempt to improve communication leads frequently to yet more confusion, and the consequent sense of frustration inclines people ever further toward aggression and violence, rather than toward mutual understanding and trust.”

“Nevertheless, this meaning does not cover all that is signified by communication. For example, consider a dialogue. In . . . dialogue, when one person says something, the other person does not in general respond with exactly the same meaning as that seen by the first person. Rather, the meanings are only similar and not identical. Thus, when the second person replies, the first person sees a difference between what he meant to say and what the other person understood. On considering this difference, he may then be able to see something new, which is relevant both to his own views and to those of the other person. And so it can go back and forth, with the continual emergence of a new content that is common to both participants. Thus, in a dialogue, each person does not attempt to make common certain ideas or items of information that are already known to him. Rather, it may be said that the two people are making something in common, i.e., creating something new together.

“But of course, such communication can lead to the creation of something new only if people are able freely to listen to each other, without prejudice, and without trying to influence each other. Each has to be interested primarily in truth and coherence, so that he is ready to drop his old ideas and intentions, and be ready to go on to something different, when this is called for.”

~ David Bohm

Here David Bohm, the great theoretical physicist, who also engaged in some amazing dialogues with others (LINK to a Treasure Trove of Videos), speaks to the qualifications necessary for true dialog, which requires a willingness to listen and even change your mind based on what transpires in the dialog. So, a true dialog requires openness. Bohm pointed out in the 1970’s that our media was essentially training us away from dialog to another form, which he called discussion, in which no one gives an inch and we learn to ignore the facts and positions that do not match our current world view.

In the other blog, Krista Tippett, a journalist and author of the On Being Blog (LINK), speaks of the importance of questions, and the quality of generous listening:

“If I’ve learned nothing else, I’ve learned this: a question is a powerful thing, a mighty use of words. Questions elicit answers in their likeness. Answers mirror the questions they rise, or fall, to meet. So, while a simple question can be precisely what’s needed to drive to the heart of the matter, it’s hard to meet a simplistic question with anything but a simplistic answer. It’s hard to transcend a combative question. But it’s hard to resist a generous question. We all have it in us to formulate questions that invite honesty, dignity, and revelation. There is something redemptive and life-giving about asking better questions.”

~ Krista Tippett

 

“We’ve all been trained and raised as advocates, so we go in with a position. There’s a place for that. But we need to be able to set that aside, because we need places where that’s not all we’re doing… So, one thing about listening — generous listening — one really simple characteristic of it is that the generous listener is ready to be surprised. You go into [a conversation] with an assumption that you don’t know everything or understand everything, and you’re truly curious — which means you’re open to having whatever assumptions you do bring unsettled, and you’re going to be graceful about that and kind of curious about that when that happens.”

~ Krista Tippett

And finally, David Bohm speaks of the capacity for dialog to share meaning, and to convey the essence of humanity, love:

“Love will go away if we can’t communicate and share meaning… However, if we can really communicate, then we will have fellowship, participation, friendship, and love, growing and growing. That would be the way…

“And perhaps in dialogue, when we have this very high energy of coherence, it might bring us beyond just being a group that could solve social problems. Possibly it could make a new change in the individual and a change in the relation to the cosmic. Such an energy has been called ‘communion.’ It is a kind of participation. The early Christians had a Greek word, koinonia, the root of which means ‘to participate’ — the idea of partaking of the whole and taking part in it; not merely the whole group, but the whole.”

~ David Bohm

We in New Thought are progressive by nature. This does not mean that we do not have those who are conservative politically. What it means is that our teachings are uniquely positioned among spiritual teachings to embrace an evolving world. In a world where change is the only constant, there is room for both conservative and progressive values – we conserve what is treasured as we progress toward what is emerging. When limited thinking dominates, we fall into an either/or position that is neither sustainable nor healthy.

When we fail to listen generously and to engage in dialog with an open mind and heart, we move into either/or consciousness and make anything coming from the “other side” wrong. We close off and batten-down with our tribe of belief and forward movement is inhibited or lost.

Now this does not mean that every position by every person on either side of an issue is correct or true. We all have blind spots, and we are all susceptible to falling into the trap of repeating something simply because it seems to agree with our particular worldview. But we all need to be able to engage in dialog in the way that David Bohm defined it, and to engage in generous listening, as described by Krista Tippett. We need to presence ourselves in love and possibility.

We can begin in our own homes and in our own spiritual communities.

Beautiful Life Force