The Idea of a Shamanistic, Stormy Spiritual Path Is Too at Odds with Our Religious Anti-Body Culture to Be Easily Accepted: Is the Supernatural Terrifying?
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Correcting the “Civilized” Ego … The Stormy Path to Self, Part One — The Way Forward Is Down: The Divine Is Mistaken for “the Devil” Until One Is Surrendered Enough
Implications of Falls from Grace, The Devolutional Model of Development
From looking at the possibility of a more benign, less tragic human trajectory, as we did in the last chapter, I would now like to delve into the implications of this devolutional model of development—these Falls from Grace—as concerns psychotherapy, human growth, or “healing.” For, once the falls have happened to a person, once the patriarchal pathology has occurred, we need to look at what to do about it. We need to turn from prevention, as in the previous chapter, to correction or remediation.
The Way Forward Is Down
I said at the outset of Part Two that a metaphorical analysis such as this one can uncover underlying meanings: It can provide understanding of inner and outer behavior as well as guidance for such. At this point it can be stated that the implications of an analysis such as I have been presenting are for no less than the direction of growth, the direction of mystical experience, the concept of regression, and the evaluation of current ego psychotherapies, among others.
Is a “Fully Functioning Ego” a Prerequisite to Higher Consciousness?
Specifically, this perspective puts in question the psychotherapeutic maxim that ego strength precedes higher consciousness. I confess that many years ago I myself made exactly that claim in a work titled The Dangers of Mysticism for Modern Youth (Adzema, 1970). As I concluded, “Cosmic consciousness is dependent upon self-actualization.” By this I meant, following a Jungian line, that ego-actualization leading to a solidified ego and ego strength was necessary before one could hope to face the overwhelming and terrifying Unconscious Self—the repressed inner Divinity. And again following Jung, I proposed that this usually could not occur until the second half of life, or after the mid-life crisis.
Is the Supernatural Terrifying?
Subsequently, however, I encountered the new experiential psychotherapeutic techniques which — it has been my own experience — allow one to deal with and integrate the repressed “negative” energies that lie along the path (as this book’s analysis demonstrates) to mystical experience of Energy, Mind, Absolute Subjectivity, and God. Thus, I declined to publish that earlier work.
Ego Does Not Precede Illumination, It Prohibits It
Schneider (1987), to give an example, claims that the kind of mystical consciousness of which Wilber speaks is not possible because, for one thing, it would be terrifying and overwhelming.
Indeed, that was a good part of my position in The Dangers of Mysticism for Modern Youth (Adzema, 1970). But as I say, I eventually came to understand there to be a big difference between access to and integration of these realities. For, as both Jung and Campbell have pointed out, a God is often seen as a devil until one is wholly enough … I would say surrendered enough … to approach him.
Some People Are Sick for Healthy Reasons
At any rate, those subsequent experiences of mine with the experiential psychotherapies led to a reformulation of my understanding which led to works titled, descriptively enough, “The Way Forward Is Down” and The Centered Path Through Hell. The proposition arising from this later work is that low self-esteem, low ego strength, is a precondition for “higher” (“lower”) growth in a mystical direction.
As Maslow (1968) put it (and contrary to Wilber ), some people are sick for sick reasons and some people are sick for healthy reasons. Therefore, especially in an avowed “insane” (see Fromm, 1955) culture, we might want to think twice about doing people the big favor of “helping” them in the direction of increased ego defenses … and societal adjustment and social functioning.
In fact, those people with inadequate defenses against what is in essence more real are not only closer to being truly sane than the majority of folks but also might be better helped by leading them in the direction of dismantling what remains of the barriers between themselves and pure Energy, pure Consciousness, and helping them instead to integrate with and grow to encompass the expanded awareness that results.
The Stormy Path to Self
Now, I realize that this proposition is not absolutely new. For one thing it seems to make sense of some of the extreme and bizarre behavior, the seemingly manifest neurotic behavior, of some of the saints and mystics on their way to expanded awareness (see for example James, 1899/1982, especially Henry Suso, pp. 306-310; and Saint John of the Cross, 1959).
But in this secular age, it seems such allowance for “aberrant” behavior is rare. Keep in mind that in many cultures there are institutions—like medieval monasteries—or roles, like shamans, through and in which such distortions of personality can be worked out in socially sanctioned ways. Contrast this with the modern attitude which seems to be that if they can’t be talked into picking themselves up and/or behaving themselves like everyone else they are to be drugged or electroshocked into compliance.
Nevertheless, there are those in this day also who do speak out in favor of the direction of growth that this book is presenting. R. D. Laing, Arthur Janov, and Stanislav Grof are not the least of these. Indeed, Stanislav and Christina Grof’s (1990) book, The Stormy Search for the Self, is a near-exact affirmation of the proposition I have just stated.
Our Religious, Anti-Body Culture Makes Folks Terrified of the Shamanistic, Stormy Path
Still, this idea of a “stormy” spiritual path—despite the fact that it was distinctively presented and described over a century ago in William James’s classic (1899/1982) work, The Varieties of Religious Experience, (1899/1982)—in my opinion, goes too much against our hard won “rationality” … which we see is essentially our cultural rationalization. This notion is too much an affront to our culturally embedded “pragmatism” … which it is clear now is our cop-out to consensual constructs, especially fear-rooted economic ones. And it is in direct opposition to our pervasive Judeo-Christian anti-body cultural bias. So this idea of a stormy spiritual path, a path in which progress involves regress … in which the way forward is down, is anything but easily accepted.
Continue with “Crazy” and Transcendent Are Not Opposite as Ego Psychologists Conveniently Proclaim: Have Western Puritanical Beliefs Infected Transpersonal Psychology?
Return to What Does the Natural Self Look Like? The State of Not Losing the Soul Is Emotional Openness and Joy, Being Equally Free in Tears and Laughter
To Read the Entire Book … on-line, free at this time … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Falls from Grace
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Graduate Courses in the University of Divinity. Pain Is the Professor … Bringing Us Ever hOMe: Experience Is Divinity, Part Three — All We Are Saying … Is Give Love a Chance
Posted by sillymickel
The Greatest Teaching Is Also the Hardest Teaching: We Are One, Not Just With What We Admire, But Also With What We Despise … We Are One With the Darkness We Deplore
This is the basis for what we call faith…which is the notion that the Universe, at base, is “friendly”…if not out and out loving…and that ultimately there is nothing to fear.
So, for pain, God is playing peek-a-boo with us…. Our Inner Divinity has blessed ourselves with it to guide us from danger toward our true path.
Of course we bitch and complain when we don’t get what we want, when misfortune brings down our cherished fantasies…and sure it is painful. But I doubt there is any of you who has not looked back at what you had intended and what you were guided to instead, and said, “Thank God I’m not in charge of my life… If I’d have gotten my way, well, hell, what a stupid idea that ended up being. God sure must love me to sustain and teach and guide me…in spite of myself.”
He does that for all of us and that’s what I meant about the pain being His blessing to us.
But of course there’s much more to it than that….
All We Are Saying … Is Give God a Chance.
Take, for example, the ideas of heaven and hell. Those are the ultimate examples we have of our beliefs that pain is evil and is about God punishing us and conversely that pleasure is good and is about God rewarding us.
By the way, only humans could come up with something as horrible as a hell. ONLY humans—ones who are the most removed from the Divine themselves. For God, our Inner Divinity, could never come up with something like that. I’ll get into why later, assuming it is not readily apparent to you right at the moment. But for now, let’s just put it this way: There’s no hell. Not in the ultimate sense. Take my word for it.
There’s no hell, but does that mean everybody goes to heaven? Now, not quite, not exactly. Because, would heaven be getting what you ask for? Or do you think it would be getting what God—who knows everything—knows … you … want? That is to say, what you really need and the biggest part of you really wants….
Heaven Can Wait
So in this sense it might be seen that “heaven” … or what amounts to our idea of getting what we ask for … might actually be not very good. Some might say that it would amount to a real hell. Ask King Midas, for example.
On the flip side, if what we ask for would actually lead to more suffering in the long run, then getting what we need to be happier in the long run might be rewarding and a blessing, even if it is initially painful and something we absolutely do not want when we get it. So, in this case, what might be seen as “hell” might actually be not very bad. Ask any alcoholic or drug addict who has hit bottom, for example.
Pain Is the Teacher … to Bring Us Back to Happiness.
Pain is the teacher. But it’s not pain that’s being imposed, or, is in any way a punishment. In fact, we are the ignorant ones who are picking pain. In some respect, the amount of pain one receives correlates with the amount of ignorance one is in. That is no different from saying that the longer one persists in doing the wrong thing, the longer one will suffer from the bad consequences of doing that: If one is too ignorant to stop hitting oneself on the head with a hammer, one is going to keep suffering. If one refuses to take remedies to get well, one will stay sick. If one does not face the truth about what we are doing to ourselves by polluting and radiating the globe, we will suffer more and longer … horribly in fact … for that kind of ignore-ance.
But that is not the entire story, as it is also true that those who are further along in spiritual evolution—Christ is perhaps the best example—will take upon themselves, will bring to themselves, greater suffering for the purposes of learning the highest truths. Pain is the teacher, and some of us have opted to take graduate courses with the “master.”
Indeed, some people, who happen to be at the “highest” levels of our refinement back to Unity, to Divinity, will take upon themselves the pain of others. This is the meaning of the bodhisattva—the one who refuses to go into enlightenment until all can go. This is the meaning of Kwan Yin and Avalokiteśvara, ever tearful in compassion for the suffering of the world. This is the meaning of Christ taking upon himself the sins of the world. It is as if at a certain point of our return hOMe we begin to reflect, or manifest, most strongly the qualities of Divinity which we are approaching. It is like at a certain point our Divine Nature is the least obscured from view.
Indeed, that is how we know of the the Divine. It is because we see it reflected or shining through in the actions of wholly others. It is because we see it reflected in the compassion and selflessness of the most evolved of us.
The bodhisattva stage, like the Centaur Chiron stage, is among the last stages of our return hOMe. It is as if we stand upon the edge of Unity and take a long mournful look at the ones we leave behind and refuse to go forward while others still suffer.
This is just prior to the greatest teaching of all—which also arises out of the pain and suffering that we have chosen at that stage. And this teaching is the hardest, for it involves not just removing the barrier to Divinity, but also acknowledging this last truth, which is that it is ourselves who has been causing, not just the pain we experience, but we participate also in the creation of the pain of Others. We realize that we ourselves are part of the mistakes and cruelty that we condemn in our concern for the suffering of others. We realize that we are One not just with what we admire, but also with what we despise.
But beyond even that, suffering teaches us. We realize that there is nothing wrong with even that. We do not just forgive ourselves: We forgive others and in so doing are ourselves forgiven. The most common prayer in the Judeo-Christian world actually acknowledges this: It goes, “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.” People think that part is again the tit-for-tat: If we forgive others, then we will be forgiven by the Divine. In fact, what it means is that in forgiving others we are also forgiving ourselves, for we are One with them. In judging others, we are judging ourselves. And in condemning others, we keep ourselves enslaved.
The boddhisattva refuses enlightenment until we all are enlightened. Is it possible then that in his turning his back on release he is also contributing to the imprisonment of everyone. But I am getting ahead of myself.
Prior to this awakening that we are One even with the darkness we deplore, we are at the stage Christ expressed on the cross when he said, “Forgive them Father, for they know not what they do.” One is at the point at which the boddhisattva is refusing enlightenment.
But we awaken to something beyond even that: We see that the entire thing is beautiful beyond belief, that it was always beautiful, even with all the “mistakes” built into it and all the darkness painted upon it.
But after this realization, also like Christ who suffered more then on the cross and just before his death said, “I and the Father are One.” And it is at this stage that even the boddhisattva accepts enlightenment. For what is realized is that enlightenment is not a state to be achieved, it is one to be realized: For one is One with All, has always been, and the only path necessary is the One that leads to realizing there is no path, never was, and there never needed to be one.
More about that later.
But whether we are actively enrolling in advanced courses or being thrust into remedial ones through our ignoring consequences of our actions and refusing to do the “homework” we have assigned ourselves (karma), the Divine on the other side of this is ever helpful and loving, providing the exact amount of stimulus or pain to either teach us or wake us up.
So, Divinity doesn’t ever pick pain for us, except to bring us back to happiness. What I’m getting at is that God is good. The Divine defines goodness. The amount of darkness we see in the Divine is indeed equal to the amount of darkness we have created for ourselves. It may even be a while to realize that even choosing the darkness was perfect, as the light is better seen in contrast to darkness and we better understand our own nature as Divinity, we better understand Truth in relation to the Untruth we hid ourselves with.
Continue with Fetishing and Fearing What’s Hidden … Life Is a Dark Screen: To Be Ignorant of Identity with Divinity Is the Purpose of the Human Form.
Return to In Spite of Ourselves, Ultimate Trust, and the Absolute Earliest Preschool: Experience Is Divinity, Part Two — Pain Is Wisdom Gift-Wrapped
To Read the Entire Book … free, on-line … of which this is an excerpt, Go to Experience Is Divinity
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