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!

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 na├»ve 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!