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!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Shadow of Trust

I have before spoken on popular notions and one notion that has attracted my interest lately is the notion that “trust must be earned” and that furthermore, as a result of the biblical “original sin”, we, as humans, are not born with the quality of trustworthiness. While all of this sounds reasonable, trust is not an issue of reason, it is an issue of emotion. In fact, the fundamental defining moments for trust in a child’s life happens well before a child reaches the age of reason, considered by child development specialists as around the age of seven.

So, if trust can’t be earned, then how does trust happen? If there is nothing that I can have or do that will gain the trust of another or if there is no particular way of behaving that can earn for me that trust in another, then where does trust come from in the first place? How can this be? Think about this a moment with me. Is there a person you so profoundly trust that nothing they could do would betray your trust? Or, is there a person who, no matter what they do, even though you just can’t put a finger on it, you just aren’t willing to trust that person? I believe that if you look long and hard enough, I trust you will find examples of both.

From where then, does trust originate? When I was born into this world I was living in the realm of trust even though I was too young to be able to know trust as a concept but rather I might have instinctively known it as unconditional benevolence. If I cried, for whatever need to be fulfilled, as I was yet to be able to understand about when and how my need would be fulfilled for I knew not even the concept of time, I would cry until my need was fulfilled or until I fell asleep in exhaustion, in which case, my need for the moment was fulfilled. This reciprocol behavior/response was wired into my growing brain as a survival mechanism. In a sense, if I could conceptualize this experience as an infant, would I not call it trust? And if I can know this unconditional benevolence on some level as a child, and since I survived into self-knowing and into reason, is trust not my birthright?

Just as the bibilical Esau sold his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of gruel, at what point did I sell my birthright of trust for survival? It probably began somewhere in my second or third year when I realized that the source of my unconditional benevolence, my mother, no longer could or would provide for me unconditionally and that now I had to work for my needs, therefore, I had to earn this benevolence, this trust. Instead of having this trust be a part of who I was, I forgot it in the lesson learned in the stirrings of my sentience, my self-knowing, that with this self-knowing came also the sense of who I am as a being separate from everything else. Trust was no longer who I am but something outside of myself that I would get or not, conditionally, as it were.

With all that I have said, I can begin to get to the point of all this by saying that trust is part of who I am as it is a part of who we all are. It has been wired into our brains since childhood and yet, as we move out of our childish innocence into our reason, we forget that because we have survived thus far, that we have been able to do so only by none other than the benevolence of the universe, unconditional and all inclusive, unwavering and loyal, to put it into human terms. This unconditional benevolence, or trust, has molded me into who I am as an ego as it also exists within me as the cornerstone of who I am as being. Herein lies the Shadow of Trust. It is in this unconscious belief in a non-benevolent universe on which most of us hang our belief in our survival. It fosters fear of any future event where we have an attachment to a specific outcome, an outcome that favors our belief that if it turns out a particular way, our survival is assured, just as if it doesn’t turn out a particular way that our survival is in serious question.

How do I get out of the trap, the trap of trust equals survival? As I have postulated in previous posts, I turn trust into a mirror of who I am rather than as someone or something that must somehow prove itself to me as being trustworthy. I turn this mirror back on myself and as I do that, I look in the mirror and tell myself that I trust the person or thing, despite my incessant mental chatter that is telling me otherwise. I turn my distrust, inspired by all the reasonable assessments that I have devised for myself and fed by my made up need for anger and revenge, into love and well-being for all involved. I thus turn my problem into the solution, and as I already know for myself, I can’t find a solution with the same level of consciousness that saw the situation as a problem. If I go to bed with a problem, I can know in my awakening to the new day that I have survived yet another day and night, and in that process, I can also remember that whatever the problem was the night before, that my consciousness is one day closer to the solution and that I can let it go and let it be, in the meantime.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Shadow of Love

I know I’m embarking on a perilous journey to speak now on “The Shadow of Love.” I think that some readers might even be ready to lynch me for even suggesting that love would have a shadow side to it but in the realm of unconscious belief and behavior, which is what I call shadow, I am saying that love has probably the most going for it in this realm of human unconsciousness.

From the microcosm of the infinitesimally small quantum realm to the macrocosm of inter-galactic space, love is the force which manifests all that we know as sentient, that is, self-knowing beings. Like “the Force” which is spoken of in the universe of “Star Wars”, this force literally binds the universe together. It is the tendency of all matter in the universe to connect with all other matter in the universe and which is universally called gravity. It is also the force in the smallest realm of matter whereby negatively and positively charged protons and electrons are attracted to and repelled from each other and which is called electromagnetic force. That leaves only the other two forces or interactions referred to as weak and strong interactions which also have the effect of attraction and repulsion. In many respects, physicists would probably debate long and hard on such a simplistic explanation as mine, yet I think you can get my point that love is the force which binds all that we know, together.

So what of love in the realm and on the scale of human interactions, this tendency of human beings to connect to one another that involve both interactions which attract or repel?

There are many definitions and distinctions made of the word love. In Greek, there are four. There is first eros, often thought of as passionate, sensual love or longing, even unto sexual desire. Secondly there is philia or philos, which means friendship or dispassionate loyalty to family, friends, tribes or nations and is the source of the word philosophy or “love of wisdom.” Thirdly there is storgé, or affection, such a love of parents for their children.

And finally there is agapé, a holding one in high regard, even to the idea of “true love” as one would have for a life partner or spouse or even a love of God. Agapé is the word that would be compared to the French “amour” and translated in our English phrase “I love you.”

In addition, in the European Middle Ages came yet another distinction of love, called romantic, chivalrous, even sometimes courtly or platonic love, which implies both a longing, but yet also a sublimation of the erotic or sexual desire of eros. This distinction of romantic love is the source of much of our old and modern literature on the subject of love.

There is this popular notion that we often hurt most the ones we love the most. This may be a clue to what I am talking about when I speak of a shadow of love, for it is in this realm of social interaction where much of the unconsciousness around love resides.

For myself, I have seen and known love in all of the distinctions I have mentioned and I have noticed that in all these distinctions a common theme emerges, the theme of attraction and repulsion, which I mentioned before is the Force of the universe. This means that, in the realm of ego, with love comes its opposite, which is hate, although for some, a less stronger word might be intense or mild revulsion.

So in this realm of ego, I want to be clear that hate is not the shadow of love. The shadow of love is in the unconscious belief that I can know of love beyond the boundary of my own ego, and this is the shadow of love to which I have finally reached in this post.

The fallacy or shadow of love is that beyond the boundary of my own ego, love is only a projection. Let me repeat that. Beyond the boundary of my own ego, love is only a projection. I can say this with conviction because there have been written numerous how-to-books about finding happiness and contentment in a relationship and all of them are hot sellers because of the fact that beyond the initial feelings and longings that come from “falling in love”, love actually becomes a high maintenance activity for most of us, and I am certainly no exception.

So how do I get out of this trap of love being a projection? Can I actually consider that the way out of the trap is to step out of ego, even for a second, to see love not as a projection, but as a mirror? As before, when I have spoken of traps, the answer once again is YES!

So how does love become a mirror, instead of a projection? Asking the question that way still involves an ego to ask it so instead I will pose another route out of this trap and step up to the level of Causal being and say that when I am Love as Cause, everything else is a mirror of who I am. At the level of Cause, I get to see in the mirror of Love the reflection of who I am, in the smile or loving words of my partner, in acts of random kindness of a stranger, in the pain expressed by a dog upon whose toe I just stepped or the dismay of the owner of a car I just backed into. I can see Love reflected also in the hatred expressed by ones I would call my enemy, which allows me to forget for a moment that their hatred is a reflection of my own revulsion which is the other side of attraction, two sides of one coin, which is love. When I am Love as Cause, I can no longer fight against anything, I can only lend my support for something. I can’t fight against hate, I can only support love. When I am Love as Cause, I am connected with all, whether or not my ego can see it.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Shadow of Obedience-Compliance Revisited

Back in September 2009 , I posted about my shadow of obedience or compliance. In that post, I never really addressed how that shadow was keeping me from living a life of authentic, empowered self-expression, only how my resistance to that shadow keeps me in a world that is unworkable.

I want to start using a different term for shadow, because I have noticed how that term can be confusing to some readers, even though I have addressed and re-addressed my definition countless times here on this blog. I define shadow as simply “unconscious belief or behavior” so I will use that term “unconscious belief/behavior” to see how it might clarify what I am trying to do with my life in examining the multiple layers of my unconscious belief/behavior, like peeling away the layers of an onion to get to my core, that is, who I am. And to be clear, I don’t mean “core values” because values is just another word for belief and that means I have unconscious values that can block my access to my authentic self, as well.

The unconscious belief/behavior that can be found in obedience or compliance is a reflection of my own resistance to being a fully realized, responsible, human adult. It has been showing up or has been appearing to me all of my life as resistance to authority, whether it be political, social, religious or even moral authority, that is, a definition of what it means to be a “good” or “just” or equally a “bad” or “evil” person by the way I behave towards others.

Don’t get me wrong. I am not trying to say that acting in obeyance or compliance to an authority outside myself is a bad thing or that it is a good thing either. I am, however, trying to say that unconscious belief/behavior in the area of obedience or compliance to an authority outside of myself can be a trap that keeps me stuck in the idea that I really have no freedom and that if I act or react in any way against an authority of some kind, that I am, in fact, a rebel.

How did I get myself into this trap, because I did get myself into this trap all by myself even if I believe that others helped me, others like my parents, my teachers, my bosses, or the cop who pulled me over for some reason, or just in the idea that I must listen to authority “for my own good.”

The answer is “I got myself into the trap of obedience or compliance when I identify both with whatever authority I have established for the moment and when I identify with the idea that this authority is right and therefore I am being made wrong. This is the shadow of obedience or compliance, where my ego creates an identity and when it does that, it creates separation between myself and that which I objectify as authority.

What happens then, when I identify with authority outside of myself as an object or as effect?  Can I be authority as subject and cause instead? The answer is, of course, YES! Is it that simple? YES! Does it mean that it is easy? Heck NO!

So now I will bring us back around to the difference between obedient or compliant as a way of belief/behavior and obedience or compliance as a way of being.

When I am obedience or compliance as a way of being, I shift from reacting to authority “out there” to choosing authority as a mirror of who I am. When I do that I become authority. When I am authority, I have nothing to resist or rebel against. When I am authority, it is easier to see the lesson that I created for myself to learn. When I am authority, I am also obedience and compliance, which is a way of being, not obedient or compliant, which is a way of behaving. When I am obedience and compliance, the world is workable, I am authentic and I am truly FREE.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Shadow of Right Belief

I want to stop a minute and ask a simple question. Why is there so much conflict in the world? Children often ask this question in their own fashion and their parents and other adults in their lives often respond from a place that speaks to the child as being innocent and naïve to even beg the question. The adults will usually answer with a shrug because they don’t know how to answer the question in a way that they think the child will understand. Or is it really that they shrug because they don’t know the answer for themselves.

The truth of the matter is that the answer to any why question is because and is the result of a notion of cause and effect which comes from a logical mind set. We know instictively when we answer with because as we instinctively know that the answer will again beg the question why from our little young friend that asked us why in the first place. This is our mind at work.

So let me ask it another way. What causes so much conflict in the world? Can you hear the gears in your head running wildly trying to come up with an answer? Or maybe your mind is simply trying to ignore the question altogether by saying Why do you ask? or I don’t really have time for this! or some other indication that it has found itself not wanting to go there.

The truth of the matter is that both questions are the same question and both are circular, as I said in the first paragraph, in the answers you will get when asking why for that is the way all minds work because all minds believe that when one thing happens that it must have been caused by another thing. This is the shadow of right belief.

So again I present another conundrum on this blog and ask once more, as I have asked before, Is there a way out of the trap of cause and effect? And since it is a mind that is asking, the answer is invariably Yes or No! and/or Yes and No!, depending on which mind is answering the question.

Let’s step back one moment and see if we can take the question out of our mind and into our being. This is not possible if we identify with our mind, because as I’ve pointed out over and over, the mind only can see things as and/or, as so or not so, always in dualities and never as oneness. Even the concept of everything must carry also the concept of nothing!

At the level of being, there is no concept of oneness, There is only oneness!

At the level of being there is no right and/or wrong, past and/or future, cause and/or effect.

At the level of being, I am cause (not I am the cause) and everything that is out there is only an effect of what I cause. And as cause of what I see out there, I caused the trap in my mind, of cause and/or effect, and I as cause, I know that there is no trap, except in my mind.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Shadow of Having the Right Attitude

There is a very popular notion that living a happy and successful life is all about attitude.

According to C. G. Jung, my current favorite source for things psychological, attitude is defined as a "readiness of the psyche to act or react in a certain way". He further states that attitudes come in pairs and form a duality of conscious and unconscious, rational and irrational, introverted and extroverted, and thus become the basis for neuroses.

So what is this I said about the notion of happiness, success and attitude? How is there shadow in this when it is obvious to most that having the right attitude will bring happiness and success, just as the wrong attitude will only bring pain and misfortune? I believe the key element in attitude and shadow is evident in the pair of attributes called conscious/unconscious and we should all know by now that in unconsciousness is where shadow lives and breathes.

The next question that might be asked is “What is wrong in having a good attitude?” The answer is nothing, just as there is nothing right in it, either. This is not to say that one shouldn’t strive to have an attitude that will be more likely to bring happiness and success rather than having one that brings nothing but pain and disaster. What I am saying is that attitude, whether good or bad, is subjective and is a function of the ego, and that is where shadow or unconsciousness can lure us into a trap, a false sense of what constitutes success or failure, happiness or pain and most importantly, what is the right or wrong attitude to have in the first place to get what we want or to avoid what we don’t.

So how do I get out of the trap of thinking that the key to happiness and success is in having the right attitude? As most traps go, we get stuck in them by our limited thinking and by our identification with the trap. We say “I’m stuck in a trap and I can’t get out”, that is the identification with the trap. And while we are identifying with the trap, our ego kicks in and says “This can’t be happening to me” or “I don’t have time for this” or something on similar lines, and all our energy is focused on the trap instead of a way out of it with the result being that we become more and more mired in the mud of our own ego.

So what is the way out of the trap? The way out is surely not in thinking, for it was thinking that the key to happiness and success is in having the right attitude that brought us into the trap in the first place. It is in our ego, limited as it is, where attitude is as much a part as shadow and unconsciousness. Once we know that the ego is part of the trap, we can begin to realize that the key to happiness and success is not in attitude, it is in consciousness, where we live in the present moment instead of living in a past or future, where the definition of happiness and success have meaning for the ego. It is being able to live in the moment, in consciousness and self-awareness, that is the key to unlocking the trap.

The Shadow of Drama

I recently discovered that as I have become more aware of my own unconscious thoughts, feelings, and behavior, that all the drama in my life has begun to disappear, EVERYWHERE!

It first began to happen with my partner for the last twenty-nine years, my wife and perfect mirror, Carol. Then it began to happen with my customers and co-workers, with brothers in my Mankind Project community and then it began to happen in my spiritual community, The Celebration, first on Sunday mornings, then at choir practice, and finally at our monthly council meetings, where decisions sometimes have to be quickly resolved that affect everyone in the community but where we also value listening and setting aside our thoughts and feelings to a higher goal of what we call “a union of hearts”, without the need for someone to lose in order for another to win.

So what is this Shadow of Drama and how do we keep it going, even when we are aware that we are in the drama? The answer is that we keep the drama going when we can tell ourselves that we know that we are in a drama, yet we remain unconscious to the fact that the drama is as much in us as we are in it, and probably more so the former as the latter. This is the shadow of drama.

How do we get out of the drama and become just the audience, the watcher or better yet, how can we make the drama disappear altogether? The answer has several steps involved.

After we have noticed that we are in a drama, we need to look to see where we have seen this drama played out before and what role we are currently playing, because as we grow into any role in life, our roles are bound to shift to keep the drama fresh and new.

Some may think that what we want to do is to become the director, so that we can take control of how the drama unfolds, but this still keeps us stuck in a role instead of putting us out in the audience to watch because even the director has an interest in the actors and how the drama is acted out, whereas the audience is, generally speaking, only interested in the acting.

The next step, after we have noticed what our current role is in the drama, is to be able to step out our role long enough to remember that we are the actor who made the role our own and that we are acting, although this can be particularly difficult for “method actors” who "try to create in themselves the thoughts and emotions of their characters in an effort to develop lifelike performances" rather than classical actors who "simulate thoughts and emotions through external means, such as vocal intonation or facial expression." By taking on the thoughts and feelings of the role, the motivations of the character, as it were, we are no longer acting, we become the role.

So when we recognize that we are actors instead of the role we are playing, it is only a single step more to leave the stage where we can watch from the other side of the curtain. From that point of view, we can stay and watch or walk away.

And how do we disappear the drama altogether? That takes a little more work once we become practiced in being able to step out of our role easily and quickly to become the watcher and not the actor in a role. To switch analogies from the world of the performing arts to the world of balloons, if we were to take a balloon and began inflating it until it burst, the balloon, for all intents and purposes, would simply disappear. Our identity with our role in the drama is like that balloon and each time we step off the stage is like the air we use to inflate the balloon. We keep stepping off different stages in different theaters like we keep adding air to the balloon, until, for all intents and purposes, the roles and the drama, simply disappears, all in a single “pop”.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Shadow of Predictability

As an adjunct to what I said earlier in “The Shadow of Consistency”, I will also speak to another shadow, that of predictability. I have found myself saying to some of my friends that “I love you because you are so predictable.” I used to think that I was complimenting them but that has recently shown up as completely the opposite for me and, in that new knowing,while my first thought was to say that it was not meant to be a compliment, if they had decided to take it as one, why should I take away from that complimentary remark by saying that it was not meant to be so. Can I do that and still remain authentic? I say Yes.

So now let me get back to the shadow of Predictability. If I say that one is predictable, what am I really saying? What I am saying is that a person is predictable if they are behaving for me the same way as they did yesterday and all of those times before.

And where does the showing up for me originate? Why with me, of course. In otherwords, people don’t show up for me the way they are, but by the way I see them. This is where my shadow lies, in the belief that people are a certain way, not because I see them that way, but because they ARE that way, or so I say. And since they tend to keep behaving that particular way that I said they did, then that simply reinforces the idea that they are predictable, and its their responsibility, not mine.

It is in my not taking responsibility for the way people behave around me that makes predictability, along with consistency, my shadow.

And having finally seen that, not too long ago, I have begun to allow people, or should I really say, now that I’m at it, that I have begun to create people being different and wonderfully unpredictable, and by doing that, the game of relationships has been reinvented for me.

The Shadow of Consistency

I used to judge a person by their tendency to contradict themselves, the more they seemed so, the more I would challenge the validity of what they said. Then, quite recently, I noticed that the more authentic I allowed myself to be with people, the more I have the tendency to appear to contradict myself from one moment to the next. I noticed that in one moment I can be quiet and serious in a conversation and in the next, I become light-hearted and laughing in the exact same conversation. To some, I would appear cold and shallow if I were to behave that way, changing my demeanor from one moment to the next, and in some contexts, I might even be seen as psychotic or at least mildly schizophrenic.

So what I have now discovered that I have made up about consistency is that for me to remain in the eyes of another with the appearance of being consistent, I must appear to be true to my character, a man of integrity, as some would call it, and that means I must behave in accordance with the projected way of being that another will cast on me. I must appear to be consistent to a standard of behavior if I expect anyone to take me seriously.

So what has this cost me in terms of my aliveness, that is my wholeness and my integrity, by striving to be consistent with the way I show up for others?

The answer to that is simple. I have sold out everything that makes me an authentic, whole person with integrity just to appear consistent and, in some people's eyes, a person worthy of knowing. In doing so, I get the booby prize, I get to appear to be a man of integrity. The problem with appearing to be a man of integrity instead of simply being a man of integrity, is that to remain so in the eyes of another, I must appear to live up to their standards of what integrity means, and that means that I must surrender one more thing that makes me whole, my autonomy. And when I surrender that, I am no longer free to be who I am and who I am not, I am no longer free to be whole.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Shadow of Apology Revisited

Just the other day, right here on this blog, I posted The Shadow of Apology. I would like to take the time to revisit that post because through the help of my friend, who commented on it, I would like to add some clarity that I have have gained since then.

I said before, which I quote verbatim, is “I don’t need to apologize for myself and I don’t have to allow others to apologize for themselves.” While both statements are still true for me, I feel that I need to take the second part of that statement a little bit further by saying that while I don’t have to allow others to apologize for themselves as a means of self-deprecation, which, in recognizing my discomfort, my own limited belief was telling me is just a form of manipulation, I can find myself using that limited belief, in not allowing another to apologize for themselves, as a form of manipulation as well. The truth for me today is that by holding onto that limited belief, I have not yet become free from it and I know this only because I still feel the discomfort that apologies now bring, now that I have recognized that I no longer need to apologize for who I am.

I also recognize that the only way out of the trap is to embrace my discomfort, rather than manipulate around it, so that by doing so, I will come to accept others need to apologize for who they are even though I still recognize that I no longer need to apologize for who I am. Stay tuned!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Shadow of Apology

I have been noticing lately that when people try to apologize for something that they believe has wronged me, I have also noticed how much I want to nip their apology in the bud by saying “your apology is not welcome” yet I know, in part, that the phrase is not common enough in our language yet to say that way without being misunderstood to the point of escalating into battle of words and hopefully, not come to blows. I have used it gingerly on occasion and I have found myself apologizing in using it, only to find myself having to eat my own words and apologize once more, and it goes on and on.

Yet as I have said since the beginning of this blog, I am not here to defend my actions, I am here to expose them as my unowned shadows, to shed light on them and by doing so, to integrate them with all that is “I”. And as I integrate them with the light in me I get to become whole once again, as if I was not always whole or will always be whole, whether or not I am seeing my shadow at any time, or I am. I now have the freedom to not always be the nice guy or the not so nice guy. I have the freedom to not always see my shadows as I have to see it when it kicks me in the butt. I don’t need to apologize for myself and I don’t have to allow others to apologize for themselves. I can be responsible for what I do and I don’t have to be responsible if someone is damaged by my unwillingness to accept an apology from them which allows them to sink deeper into a quagmire of self-deprecation which is the other side of the shadow of arrogance and when used as such to gain respect through the shadow of another, becomes not only inauthentic, it becomes unethical, as well

I hope what I have said here isn’t taken in the wrong way, but then again, if it isn’t taken in the wrong way by some, it can never be taken in the right way either, for they are two sides of the same coin.

Friday, February 26, 2010

The Shadow of Sacred Cows

As I read a friend’s blog last evening on the subject of sacred cows, which I believed was inspired, in part, by my speaking of a sacred cow of my own in using “I” statements as much as I can when I speak and write, I noticed feeling myself out on a limb as I read it because I saw myself reflected back and, as it usually does when that happens, I felt uncomfortable. Just for the record, what I am talking about when I speak of a sacred cow, is that I am speaking of a person ,thing or idea that I have put above questioning in a way that it becomes unreasonable and eventually unworkable. Anyway, I have to admit that about three years ago, before I took The New Warrior Training Adventure™ weekend and began my journey of the shadow warrior, that I found myself butting heads with this friend of mine on some issues that were sacred cows of my own, and it has very much been my way of making him and countless others wrong by defending those unquestioned beliefs. This time, I saw how I got to have him show up quite differently because I really got it when he said that he was finished with apologizing for any part of his being.

For awhile now, armed with new ammunition for seeing myself in new ways from work I have been doing with myself as a self-declared shadow warrior, I have adopted the use of the “I” statement to the point that it has become a sacred cow of which my friend spoke and as I noticed my discomfort in his speaking to sacred cows in general, I now find myself in the position of being able to call myself on it. In doing so, I have the opportunity to set myself free from it by simply seeing that I have made it so.

So what does that mean for the case I have made for using “I” statements, as I have here on this blog, so far? The answer is, it means nothing. As I said when I started this blog last year, I am on a journey and as I write each piece, I am speaking from what I see today, and if I am saying it differently now than I said it yesterday, it is simply because I am at a different point along my journey today than I was yesterday.

I certainly needn’t apologize for that, so I won’t. At least now I can perhaps avoid stepping in some of the sacred droppings because I can see a sacred cow clearly for what it is, just another way in which I can get stuck in my own delusion.

I can also thank my friend for pointing it out.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Freedom in Authentic Self-Expression

I spent most of my life trying to disown my parents and now that they are passed, I have discovered how much they were simply the mirrors I chose in this incarnation to learn the next step toward perfect freedom. As to my own son, I realized very soon after he was born that I needed to humble myself in the experience that I had nothing to teach him, that I was merely a tour guide, pointing out this and that, along our short path together. Only now, as he is moving away to follow his own path, have I allowed myself the freedom to know that sharing, without attachment or the expectation that what I have to offer is of any interest to him whatsoever, is the greatest lesson I have left to teach, not only to my family or with anyone else with whom I share a path, but also to myself.

From a discussion on freedom and family with Domo Geshe Rinpoche on Facebook

My Shadow in Avoiding Inauthentic Self-Expression

For a very long time I have not been able to laugh. As I have watched others laughing themselves silly at the simplest remark or the stupidest of jokes, in my opinion, I have not even been able to squeak out the littlest chuckle. I have struggled to find something to laugh at, despite all of my efforts to do so and, except on the rarest of occasions when I am loosened up with liquor or a little “smoking mixture”, as they euphemistically call it in smoke shops, nothing happens. I have even tried forcibly to laugh, which has angered some because they believe they can see through my forcefulness.

So, can I find a shadow by looking for a need of why to laugh, as I discovered in my last posting?

One need I can think of right away is the need of fitting in and being accepted. Another is about my need for authentic self-expression or perhaps my need for avoiding inauthentic self-expression. Either way, if I mirror this need what I get is that I project on people who laugh at everything my shadow of inauthentic self-expression. This is a big shadow for me because it puts me in a position of distancing myself from people which is surely a mirror to my need to fit in and being accepted, if only I could laugh spontaneously and genuinely. And while I’m making it my business that other people have often been showing up for me as being inauthentic in their self-expression when they laugh, I am forgetting that at the same time, this projection of mine is keeping me stuck in my presumptuousness and being right.

In other words, the joke has been on me all of this time.

Monday, February 22, 2010

My Shadow of Righteous Indignation

I got an email last evening from a friend which he also sent to a larger list of his friends and which, in my judgment, contained ethnically inflammatory remarks directed from one ethnic group towards another. Now as this friend of mine is a dear one to me, I was both disappointed and angry with my friend and replied with my righteous indignation and asked to be removed from any list with regards to future communications of this type. As I write this, I am both angry and sad to have received this from a person who I felt had unresolved issues in his life in areas for which I could only offer compassion and yet to whom I had promised to be commited to his well-being regardless of my feelings, and then I receive this email.

So, I ask myself, what is my friend mirroring in me that I’m supposed to get in this situation. After all I spoke of earlier yesterday morning (see Celebration Reading 2/21/10 - A Shadow around Being Inspired) about mirroring and humbling myself to being inspired, am I to suppose that I might have to humble myself to being righteously indignant?

I don’t quite know what the answer might be or if there is an answer, but I know that if I look hard enough that I will see in the mirror a reflection of something I really don’t want to see. I am not going to resolve this before a night’s sleep intervenes so I am going to wait for the light to cast my shadow in this and that requires the light of day, in this instance. Yet as I sit here I’m beginning to feel a rush of tingly energy in my back, arms, legs and chest, really breasts, and my heart is pumping faster, I’m feeling agitated and somewhat sexually aroused, all at the same time. If my friend really believes this as truth instead of propaganda, he has crossed the same line that he once said I would cross if I used one particular ethnically charged slur towards him, even in jest. I feel that even though I am of neither ethnic group in this case, I still feel violated in the same way.

Well at least I have my mirror and yet this issue still generates a charge in me. Again I will have to wait to channel the rest until light shines on the world.

Wow! It just dawned on me, no pun intended, that I didn’t realize that I had this line that I am not willing to cross to see that what my friend is doing right now is expressing a need, and that I just can’t see what it is yet, even though I know that his need is there.

So then, what is my need? Maybe if I can see that, I will able to mirror my need to his. I know that I need to be able to really get past my shadow long enough to listen and hear. Am I mirroring his fear and anger from his forgotten past? I certainly do not feel safe with him, and maybe that is all I need - to look at how I can make myself feel safe with him again. So now the ball is in my court to play and I’m no longer agitated though I’m still feeling aroused. I’m also actually relieved and humbled by my experience that all I have yet to do is to feel safe with my friend again because now I can see that needing to feel safe is what was being expressed by the email that had started this match in the first place.

And I’m also wrong about needing that night’s sleep to discover what is so for me.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Shadow of Psychic Vampirism

I saw a question on Answerology.com today which asked for a definition of a “psychic vampire,” how to recognize them in others and in oneself as well as developing a strategy for protecting oneself against these unwanted intrusions into our emotional world. I said that if, by definition, a psychic vampire is one who feeds on the energy of another, I would suppose that we are all psychic vampires to some degree, because I believe that we all feed on the energy of others, some more, some less, from the somewhat benign unconscious behavior of a "drama queen" to those with an intention to act in a malevolent way, such as people who foster hatred and fear, instead of love and compassion, to further a political or social agenda. And while I believe that I have the innate ability to shield myself against the attempts by others to draw more emotional energy than I am willing to give freely, such as allowing myself to be upset with a person or situation well beyond the triggering episode, I also have the ability and obligation, as one who takes ownership of my shadow, to nip my emotional reaction “in the bud”, so to speak, by looking to see how I will, at times, draw on the energy of others beyond that which I need to regain my own emotional balance by perpetrating the perceived wrong on yet another innocent third party.

There is, however, one more thing that I must do in order for me to keep my own shadow of psychic vampirism from being added to the collective shadow of psychic vampirism that exists. While I do not personally believe that psychic vampires, in the human sense, are real, in that they exist in people either with intent of malice or by unconscious shadow, I must honor that they can produce consequences in my world that are as dangerous as a rattlesnake coiled to strike from only a few feet away. I must also honor the fact that there are those who may require carrying a handgun, while others may require some form of ritual, such as creating a circle of protection around themselves with ritual objects and visualizing a white light surrounding them, while I might only require a simple declaration of “Red Alert, Shields Up” to create all the safety I need, for it is in the collective intention to protect ourselves from the conscious or unconscious intent of others, real or imagined, that the power to manifest safety in a dangerous world can be realized, to be made real. To achieve that for myself, I must show compassion for the shortcomings of others by showing compassion for myself by choosing safety over an unthinkable alternative.  I could die as easily for a right choice as for a wrong one, but I will have lived my life in love, rather than in fear.

Monday, February 1, 2010

My Shadow in Wanderlust

There was a time in my life when I traveled a lot. In 1978, which I consider the great year of wanderlust, I traveled to both the coasts, the East by car and airplane, the West coast by railroad. It was a time in which I was trying to define who I was and what I was about and I saw traveling by myself, for the most part, as a means to try out different parts of myself on different places and people, or so I think I thought. The truth of the matter was that instead of running toward myself, I was, in fact, running away from myself and this is what I now am calling my shadow in wanderlust.

Living a place like Santa Fe, I have friends who travel in and out of the US. Each time I have heard about their traveling, I have found myself bemoaning the fact that I can’t travel with them or that I can’t travel at all and the feelings of regret and shame often pour into my soul like a flood of emotion that takes me out of myself and out of the joy in living that can be found wherever I find myself to be. I have noticed these feelings and have often made those others wrong in some way for their traveling and that too, comes from my shadow in wanderlust that I hadn’t quite defined as such, until now. Even as I am writing this I am feeling an urge to escape from this moment by trying to get away from my computer where I write to have a shot of liquor or eat in order to regain the loss of love for myself that follows those feelings of sadness and loss, guilt and shame. Like all shadows, this one is continuing to show up as I am noticing it, trying to hide itself again as its nature is to do and I must continually check in on myself in order to dispel the grip this shadow has on me.
My shadow even wants me to finish this train of thought in order for it to move on to the next thing where it can keep me from experiencing the truth, that I am master of my soul.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Shadow Behind Cultural Insensitivity

If someone had called me a racist five years ago or maybe even less, I would have been the first to deny it. Today I have chosen to stand for my racism or cultural insensitivity because I have those insensitive thoughts all the time, judging people for the lamest of reasons, from having dimples or a melodious regional accent or preferring coffee over tea to the less sublime reasons such as skin color, ethnic background, education, religion, gender identity or sexual orientation. At the same time, with people I know I hope I have been able to look past some of those differences to see them more as they are rather than what I project on them, such as my distrust, fear, and even hatred.

Seeing this shadow in me and taking ownership for it has done more for me to begin to question all of the more subtle aspects of this shadow than any class on multicultural awareness and sensitivity even though I still can see the value of teaching about those kinds of issues as a way to bring about a more compassionate society. In owning this shadow I must continually engage in the practice of seeing where I still have a charge around someone and pinpoint where, in the great diversity of human beings as we are on this planet, I have taken a difference between us, large or small, and hard-wired it to something to distrust, fear or worse yet, as something to simply ignore. While engaging my shadow I must be careful not to perpetrate one more projection, shame, which I have countless times projected on others as I have also done to myself whenever I have found myself caught up in the effects of this shadow of insensitivity, for as I continue to blame myself for my insensitivity, I will also continue to project it others. For me, the responsibility starts and stops right here, with me, and all I can continue to do for the rest of humanity is to remain true to myself and not perpetrate the taking away from the aliveness of others, in the process.  I must forgive myself and embrace my shadow so that I can dance with my shadow in the light, for I am all there is between my shadow and the light.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Withholdings and Perpetrations

One of the insidious aspects of shadow is that it can and will color my reality, just like colored sunglasses, often to the point that when I interact with another person, whether a stranger or a significant relationship in my life, I will passively view that person through the filter of my shadow and not be able to see or really be with that person. On the other side of the passive shadow is the active side of perpetration, where I will actively engage in the process of causing damage to the character or sense of aliveness of an individual or group of individuals by gossip or its more passive counterpart, withholding, along with projections, judgments or anything else that allows me to avoid responsibility and accountability, at the cost of intimacy, authenticity, vitality, integrity, in short, the cost of my aliveness and the aliveness of the other person. On the other side of the cost is, of course, the payoffs, such as righteousness, being comfortable, saving face, and most importantly, not having to be responsible.

I have lived most of my life going for the payoff of righteousness, comfort, saving face and not being responsible. I have finally reached the point where the payoff is no longer important enough to cost me my aliveness or the aliveness of another. Not only is it not important to go for the payoff anymore, just seeing the payoff itself stacked up against the cost of my aliveness has tipped the scales for me to see that by giving up righteousness by seeing it as a cost rather than a payoff, has allowed me to see that aliveness, along with the intimacy, authenticity, vitality, and integrity that aliveness brings with it, is the real payoff.

I have realized that the power in discovering my own perpetrations with another is that it also provides the opportunity for me to clean up the perpetration by communicating to the person with whom I have the perpetration, but only if my communicating is equally compassionate to the other as to myself and that also allows the communication to contribute to the relationship and not cause further injury or damage. The chance of further injury should be the measure by which I decide whether to communicate my perpetration or wait until my motive is as clean as the communication. To do otherwise will do more to hold the perpetration in place rather than to further the aliveness of the other and with that, the my own aliveness, as well.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Shadow in Not Telling the Truth

I have wondered what it was that made telling a lie to be regarded as tantamount to murder in some people’s lives. In my discovery of the power of standing for my shadows when they turn up in front of me in other people and things, I have come to realize that lying is tantamont to murder because it robs people of their aliveness. I believe that I have often justified a “white lie” because I believed that I was protecting that person from possible harm as long as that person would never discover the truth by other means. What I now believe I was doing instead was robbing them of the opportunity to experience “what's so”, and that “what's so” is the essential aspect of aliveness. That leads to only one conclusion, that lying to someone is, for all intents and purposes, robbing someone of their aliveness, their experience of being alive. Further I believe that there is nothing as indefensible as to achieve my desires at the cost of another person's aliveness.  That is, in the most simplest of terms, my purpose in being here and writing these posts.

In many ways, this discovery has become, for me, a form of liberation rather than more burden, for it has shifted the question of lying from a moral question to a question of workability, integrity and responsibility which are the fundamental qualities of wholeness and aliveness. I can still question the issue of lying as a moral question if I choose, and it will not alter the fact that lying takes away from me having to be responsible, and that as long as I am able to remember to step out of any judgment, feeling or shadow around not telling the truth, I can simply let myself see that lying does not contribute to creating a world of workability, integrity and responsibility, that it creates a world of unworkability and chaos.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Shadow of Making Resolutions

This is that time of the year when many of us take time to reflect on what we did or did not do for ourselves this past year, trying to forgive ourselves for our shortcomings, and then to resolve to make a new start for ourselves in the new year. While I really can’t speak for the rest of you, I can say for myself that this process of making New Year’s resolutions simply has not worked for me, at least with any profound change in who I am.
To examine this shadow, I went to Wikipedia™ to look up the definition of resolve and found that as a verb, to resolve means “to find a solution to a problem” or “to make a firm decision to do something”. As a noun, resolve means “determination or will power”. Both definitions seem to convey to me that a resolution is centered on the problem and requires will  power and a whole lot of struggle and effort to affect the change. So, I am thinking that if I were to focus not on a problem to be solved or resolved but rather including the problem as the seed of the intention toward workability in my life, perhaps the desired result will show up by simply looking to see what works as well as what does not, moment by moment, and then simply doing that which works, at least more often than doing what doesn’t work.
So, getting back to my shadow, does finding solutions and using my force of will to affect change really make my life more workable? Its easy to make a firm decision when I am in the throes of excitement, such as found at the changing of one calendar year to the next. Celebrations like these can foster some change in my emotions because I believe that for the moment, I am invincible and infallible, but in the light of day, I will wake up, go to the bathroom, look myself in the mirror and think to myself, “what the hell.”
One common resolution people often make is to live a more healthier life; to lose weight, eat better, exercise more, and all that other stuff. The aim is to “get healthy” when the experience of health, which is neither good or bad, is simply a state of having a mind and body which supports the other intentions in life. For me, seven months ago, I was in a state of health where I could not walk or stand for long periods of time without a support, such as a cane, and to get up or sit down brought wincing pain to my body. Somewhere I said to a friend, a healer, that I wanted a change in my life. This friend told me to imagine carrying ten pound sacks of potatoes in each hand as I walked and then to imagine doing that without those bags. That image became the seed of my intention and now I have lost 55 lbs and in my job as a deliverer of flowers, I use the stairs instead of the elevator and park farther away from buildings instead of the closest space possible. Instead of resolving to get healthy, I have simply done those things that support my body in doing its job to support me in my other intentions in life. I haven’t resolved to do anything, I have simply taken a look at what works and what doesn’t and doing what works, at least most of the time, anyway.