A Blog about Shadows, the unconscious patterns of belief and behavior that block access to my authentic, sacred masculine self

The very best use of life

...is to transform to the awakened state. Next best is to develop qualities. Next best and skillful use of life is gaining deep connection to capable mentor who promises to hold you and care for you even after your passing. The least useful is to say you are a Christian or a Buddhist and expect that to save you!

Monday, September 28, 2009

The Shadow of “Thinking That I Know”

Have you ever known someone who you just want to avoid like the plague because they not only seem to know it all, they probably also believe that they do,and that seems to turn you off to them, in some way?  A recent encounter into this shadow happened with a customer to whom I was delivering flowers.  Shortly after I had left her house to return to the store I received a call from an associate telling me to go back to retreive the flowers because the customer said the flowers were wilted.  I returned to her house and in retreiving the flowers, which seemed fine to me, she told me that she had her own rose bushes and “she knew roses.”  I conceded and took the flowers back and when I was returning from her house, I was thinking about how there might be a shadow whenever I think that I know something that someone might not know and still make them wrong for it by making myself right. Once I realized the opportunity to be a witness to the this moment in the car, that is to take myself outside of any emotional, rational, or other such attachments to this situation, I got to see the woman as me.
So how does thinking that I know become shadow?  If I am wanting to be right about something, by my focus, I can no longer be in the present moment, to just be alive with the person with whom I am sharing the air, time and place. Instead I am stuck in my story about the other person thinking that he knows, and therefore I can’t experience any aliveness in the person or in myself, for that matter. In fact, all I have is story and as I have recounted before, story, like understanding, is the booby prize.
Noticing this once again, I can choose aliveness over righteousness, and with that choice, everyone gets to win. 

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Shadow of "Having Life Figured Out"

I was sitting in the laundromat waiting for my clothes to dry and I was thinking about a friend of mine who I had just been talking to on the phone about his current unworkable situation in his life where he seems only focused on his most significant relationship rather than how he feels about it's unworkability.  Soon after I hung-up and still waiting for the spin cycles to finish on my machines, suddenly, I was thinking that he had not been hearing me when I invited him to look at his pain instead of focusing on the current and apparent source of his pain, which is what I suspect he is carrying as shadow of having life “all figured out” from about the age of nine, and this current situation has nothing to do with what happened “back in the day.”

“So what does that have to do with me,” I asked myself?  “Now that I think about it, I still have my own life figured out, all the way back to the age of maybe, three.”  It shows up everytime I tell myself that what is happening, right this moment, doesn’t jive with what I had thought all those years ago and turned into this shadow of “having life figured out” which is surely a block to my aliveness, again, right this moment.

So, the gift in this particular manifestation of my shadow is that I don’t have to carry on this conversation with my friend in my head, until the old proverbial cows come home.  Instead, I have the opportunity to let it go for now and anticipate that it will come up again in yet another form, but not this time.  And as I have beening saying all along in this blog, aliveness doesn’t ever really happen in space-time or in space or in time, anyway.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

The Shadow of Unworkability in Relationships

I answered a question on Answerology.com about what I would do if I was a third party to a relationship which involved infidelity, okay, cheating by one of the partners. Would I choose silence or would I intervene in some way, and if I did intervene, how would I do so without trying to hold another accountable, which, as I have spoken before, I really cannot do? That got me thinking about how I have chosen silence over workability in my relationships and then wondered what went wrong when those relationships all too often broke down.

To me, the question becomes “What causes unworkability in relationships?” Unworkability, I believe, is caused by a lack of trust and safety and that both trust and safety break down when I am not accountable for my actions, in the example of unfaithfulness I mentioned earlier, if I chose to remain silent or chose to blame or shame another into being accountable by making them wrong for it.

So how then do I keep my own integrity in check in this situation? One viable way is by a process we call in the Mankind Project™ as support accountability. In this process, while I cannot make another accountable, I can support another by inviting the other to look at the possibility of an accountability for their actions and with it, the opportunity to clean up the consequences for not keeping their word and for the person to see their own shadow in their lack of integrity, if and when that person chooses to entertain my invitation to do so. In this example of the unfaithful partner, I would speak to the perpetrator, bearing in mind that the perpetrator may or may not have the same grasp of what accountability is and what the impact of having integrity in one’s relationships has on the workability of a relationship when trust and safety are jeopardized by a lie, in this case, by cheating. As third party to this scenario, while I don’t have a same stake in act of cheating as the partner may have, I do have a stake in whether the trust and safety I have with the perpetrator can survive when I choose silence over speaking my truth or if I choose to make any denial of accountability the basis of whether the relationship can remain workable.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Shadow of "Conceptualizing my Experience"

I was engaged the other day in a very animated conversation about shadow with a close friend when this friend replied that he wasn’t working on old shadows anymore, that he was working, rather, on new ones.  The concept of differentiating between old and new shadows had never occurred to me as a concept and I was intrigued by it almost to the level of ludicrousness, which is to say that I wanted to laugh out loud, and didn’t.  As I noticed the level of animation and volume in my voice rise in direct proportion to the rise of my desire to get my point across that there was no such thing as old versus new shadow, that there was only shadow, I realized how much of my life has been lived in conceptualizing experience rather than actually being present to it.  Needless to say, somewhere in the conversation with my friend, I decided I couldn’t go on with the direction of it because I realized that I was still as stuck in the quagmire of my conceptualization of my experience of shadow as he was.  For a brief moment in time I became present to my experience long enough to be able to release the frustration that was animating me so passionately and by that, feeling a sense of freedom in the release of both the energy and the emotional charge that had been fueling the fierceness of my conviction in the first place.

The question arises, then, whether or not I will ever be able to get past this shadow of conceptualizing my experience and the answer is yes, as long as I don’t attempt to transmit the sense of my experience to another human being by conceptualizing it first.  I realize that the only way I can be successful at sharing the experience of my shadow is to create the space to allow others to experience shadow directly, without the wall of conceptualization placed between the person and their experience.
How, then, do I continue to carry out the mission of this blog?  I do so by continuing to revisit my shadows as they come up, to experience those shadows without trying to conceptualize them. Each time the shadow comes up it won’t be an old or new shadow, it will simply be a shadow showing up in a different way from the last. It means that I haven’t seen the last of this shadow of conceptualizing my experience and you can count on me to report on it when it shows up again, next time.  The same is true for all the other shadows I have shared and have yet to share, so far.

The Shadow of “People will say bad things about me”

"You only get to keep what you give away."  -Sheldon Kopp (from If you Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him)

"Being right is the booby-prize!"   -Attributed to Werner Erhard
 I believe that this shadow is as fundamentally shared on one level or another as any that we experience as humans in the present age. After completing the est Training® in 1977, my experience of the Training, if it can truly be put into words, showed me that if I live my life afraid that people will say bad things about me having a life of commitment to greater aliveness, that I am really giving up my life for something that they will do anyway, regardless.  I believe that this is why I am here with you now, trying to explain something that is not explainable, to share something that is really not sharable.  To take a stand for this shadow in myself changes the whole nature of the conversation I’ve been having with myself and others, a conversation where something, somewhere else or some other time, past or future, is more important then right here and right now. When I do that, I trade a life of what really happened (aliveness) for a life of my stories of what I think I remembered as happening and hanging on to being right about what happened to justify my life as it has turned out, at least as to how it turned out so far.

So how has this shadow been showing up for me lately?  To be frank, this shadow shows up every time I sit down at my computer to write this blog, especially when I am coming to the point of actually publishing it. It shows up every time I decide to not stand up for a shadow that is in front of me that I see in someone else.  It shows up whenever I trade the aliveness of who I am and who I am not for what others may think of me. 

With this clarity, I have available to me at any moment to change the conversation from my stories to my truth, whenever I choose to do so, and it not only creates power for me, but as I share or attempt to share this aliveness with others, I have a tremendous opportunity to give away this aliveness to others, and we all know that you never really get to have something until you give it away.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The Shadow of “I would never throw away an opportunity like that!”

Let me make something clear about shadow. Shadow is not something dark or sinister, like the fictional character Lamont Cranston, as some people might feel. Shadow is simply caused by me standing in front of the light.  In standing in front of the light, I am affirming my aliveness but as with darkness comes the light, so I am affirming that with light comes the shadow. To illustrate how this showed up for me yesterday, I got miffed by a colleague when I asked him if he had an intention for an act of service he was doing this next weekend and he responded that there was nothing for him to set an intention for because there was nothing for him to learn by, as he put it, chopping water and carrying wood. What irked me most by his apparent unwavering attitude was that I felt like he was throwing away an opportunity to see a shadow in this and I got to be right about it until I asked him to mirror my upset by hearing my emotional charge.  As I was spewing out my judgments, then my feelings about what kind of person would do this kind of thing, that is to throw away any opportunity to see shadow, I began to see in my reflection a man who has thrown away untold numbers of opportunities in my own life in order to be righteous about the results I have gotten from doing that. After the judgments and feelings and the projection of my shadow on this man, I finally was able to catch myself in the act of seeing this shadow of  I would never throw away an opportunity like that. By taking ownership, or as I so often put it, by taking a stand for my shadow, I was able to also catch myself in the act of not throwing away an opportunity like that by the very act of seeing the shadow and taking a stand for it. It truly no longer mattered that my colleague got what I was projecting on him around missed opportunities because I got it.  That is one of the blessings when I welcome my shadow instead of trying to hide it behind me.  Instead of settling for being right, I get the real prize, which, of course, is my aliveness and I don't take away from my colleague's aliveness in the process, which I would have done had I simply held on to the charge.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The Shadow of “Making Another Accountable”

I saw a question on Answerology.com the other day that asked if white lies were okay. What I took from that question was that the asker was looking for some kind of permission or justification for an act which ,in my judgment, is questionable at the very least, regardless of the circumstances. I even know of people who believe that a lie is only a lie if they get caught in it. The truth is, for me, that any act designed to conceal the truth, by commission or omission, intentional or by mistake, is a lie and to call it white or something else is irrelevant. Now I know that many psychologists argue that sometimes a sugarcoating of the truth to a child might be justified for the emotional well-being of that child, say as in the death of a beloved pet or family member, or for me to, let’s say, tell a friend whose birthday it was that we were going to a restaurant to celebrate when, in fact, I was taking that person to a surprise party instead, this is not the question I am addressing in this article. What I am addressing here is the fact that any choice to lie is not a question of being good or bad, okay or not, it is about standing or not standing in my integrity to be accountable for cleaning up any messes that arise as a result of my actions. This raised the question for me as to whether the question the person is really asking about white lies is really about whether or not that in the telling of the white lie, he or she will be accountable for the consequences of the telling, that is, for cleaning up any messes that arise as a result of their actions. Then answer to that question for me has to be, “only if that person chooses to be accountable.” In the same way, I can’t make white lies okay for another or even for myself, which is to say that I can’t hold another person accountable for their words or deeds, although, in ordinary practice, I might often try to do so as if I could. And while I can’t make white lies okay for me, I can make myself accountable for them.
How then do I resolve this question for the asker? The answer is “I don’t!” There may be agreement in the world that telling a white lie is justifiable in certain instances, such as those I mentioned earlier, but, without accountability after the fact, the world becomes untrustworthy and unworkable, and that to me, can never be justified, for any reason.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Shadow of “I don’t Belong Here”

This last week I have been attending a five-day Conference on Healing and Transformation in Santa Fe, NM where I live. From the moment I was considering attending the conference, the little voice of doubt in the back of my head kept asking “Why should I be doing this?”  I had read through the prospectus and as I am one to consider myself somewhat of a skeptic when it comes to the Age of Aquarius,  and also as I am not a professional counselor or therapist and I wasn’t taking the workshops for  Continuing Education Credits (CEC), I felt panicked by the idea that I may be wasting my time and money on this realm of woo-woo stuff.  When I finally signed up, I faxed my registration with my credit card information on a Friday evening and waited until Monday to call to confirm receipt of my fax.  The person who took my call told me that my fax was nowhere to be found and could I please fax it again and the little voice again was there “Maybe it’s not meant to be!”  I sent the fax again and I received a call later in the day to confirm my registration.  I told a few friends who I believed might be supportive and enthusiastic about my registering for the conference and they too asked why I was doing this and I found myself again with that little voice questioning my decision. I felt sad for the lack of enthusiasm I was feeling from my friends and asked myself “Am I nuts? I really shouldn’t be doing this!”
     When day one finally arrived, I got up a little earlier than I usually do, got dressed and had my usual cereal and banana with rice milk. My plan was to leave with plenty of time to arrive early enough to park and find out where my first workshop was and instead I got on my computer to check my email and do other things until it was almost past time to make it to the conference without breaking a few traffic laws. About two miles from home I couldn’t find my cell phone, so in a panic I raced back home to retrieve it and wondered again, “Why am I doing this?” I finally got to my first workshop and discovered that I was the only participant who was not receiving CEC’s for the workshop. In the next workshop that afternoon, I really felt like I signed up for the wrong workshop as I noticed that I was the only man in a room of about 25-30 women and on top of that, I judged that the chairs were really too close to each other.
     The point of this story is this. Throughout much of my process in attending this conference, I was vaguely aware of my shadow “I don’t belong here!” and I got to watch it show up day after day throughout the conference in a variety of different ways.  Had I not been writing these blogs about aliveness and shadow for the past few months, I would probably not even been awake to the announcement about this conference, nor would I have gone very far beyond the first time that my little voice said “I don’t belong!”  With my aliveness present throughout this conference, I have come away with a clearer sense of purpose in life, which is to heal myself so that I can heal others by sharing my shadows when they show up.  I am grateful to my alive self for giving me this wonderful gift and, in the process, allowing me to share this gift to all with whom I have the opportunity to be alive.