Waiting For Grace:

Waiting for Grace

In my last blog entry I talked about the importance of asking for help from a higher power. In Jungian parlance, this is often referred to as the Self, the divine presence within all of us. Others imagine or conceptualize God in their own way. I think the key thing is having that connection open and vibrant in your life. Like other forms of communication, the most important part is being deeply receptive.

Deep listening to another means that we have to put our own agenda aside. So often when we pretend that we are listening to the other, we are just preparing what we are going to say next. We are more interested in putting our case forward, proving our argument, showing that we are right, the best, the smartest etc. It requires a sincere interest, selflessness and compassionate attention to be a good listener. Have you ever wondered why so many ‘talk therapies’ abound, and why people pay so much for therapy? I suspect that a lot of therapists would go out of business if more people were interested in really listening to each other. The truth is, it\t seems like a great luxury to be really heard by another human being.

We have so much static in our own minds we don’t have the psychic space to let in another person with his or her concerns. Never mind listening to the Self and what it may be trying to communicate to you. We have to be able to clear the mind of its busyness and noise in order to deeply listen for guidance.

It always amazes me that when you are struggling and puzzling over something and are in a state of confusion and uncertainty, it feels like it will never end. Clarity will never come. It feels like the unsolvable Gordian knot. Then one day, you simply know what you must do, and all hesitation and angst is gone. We can often only really recognize this transition in retrospect. Think back to situations where you agonized over a decision or some action you were contemplating. Did the clouds simply lift one day and your path became clear? Most of us can remember some time when that happened and it was a good thing to have waited. That was grace.

And most of us can think of times when we didn’t wait for that clarity, but took some action out of a state of confusion or emotional drama. Those were the times when we probably created more unpleasant karma for ourselves. The proverbial snowball effect. The bad situation just got worse, and then we had THAT to unravel.

Often when we are in the middle of a dilemma, it feels unbearable to not take action. The ego wants results! It is impatient and needs to be in control. It wants to manage the outcome. But the truth is that if you can hold the tension of the opposites and not take action, and pray and ask for guidance, and deeply listen for that guidance, you might be very surprised at the outcome. If the Self is not asked for help, we are often left to bumble along and make your mistakes and experience the rough and tumble we create for ourselves in our everyday life.

It is only when we turn to face the Self, and humbly ask for guidance that you might actually get the help you need. Life can turn itself around in the most surprising and unforeseen ways – in ways that we could never have orchestrated or managed on our own. But we have to let go of what we think that outcome should look like. You can’t say to God, please solve my problem, and please get rid of that jerk for me, and get me a new car while you are at it.

But you can ask for guidance. Sometimes help comes in the most unexpected ways. That is grace. Have faith and trust your life, and trust your inner truth. There is no emotional charge or drama when that realization emerges out of your deep inner core. There is simply a quiet knowing and acceptance of what is.

Rumi, a 13th century poet/mystic, who happens to be one of the most popular poets in North America, addressed all of his poetry to the One, whom he sometimes called the Friend, and sometimes the Beloved.

Coleman Barks, who is renowned as an authority on Rumi and a poet in his own right, has an extraordinary voice and feeling for Rumi’s poetry. Listen to him here. It is a gift from the One.

Asking For Help:

Asking For Help:

 

Peter and I were walking our dog down a country road last night. It was a balmy spring evening, and the light was still glowing. We were talking about a mutual friend, and I was lamenting the difficulties she was facing. He said, ‘ Can’t you say ‘that’ to her?’ and I said of course not. He asked why not, and I answered that she hadn’t asked for my help. Suddenly ‘a piece’ became clear.

If we are not willing or able to ask for help, we don’t get it. The biggest part of growth into consciousness is the ego realizing it doesn’t have all the answers. As long as it thinks it does, no outside help will be forthcoming. There has to be a ‘death’ of the ego, in which the ego must realize it is subservient to the Self. When it does that, and humbly asks for help, help will be forthcoming from the universe in many various ways, and through many various helpers.

Once the ego has died to itself, those voices and helpers will appear in many different guises – it could be animals, people, dreams, events, or synchronistic experiences. The ways of the One are many. But until that ego death has happened, the ego-personality will be ruled by envy, competitiveness, jealousy, power drives, petty comparisons and judgments.

This is the equivalent of hell. In fact, it may be the only hell. There is probably nothing worse, because it spoils all relationships, and turns our loved ones away from us. Those who care for us have to stand on the sidelines and watch helplessly, because you have not asked for help. You are still in that little egoic bubble that imprisons you and isolates you from the contact and deep relationship you crave.

Ah life! It is like this big 2 by 4 that keeps hitting you over the head until you get sick of your suffering, and humble yourself enough to ask the Self for help. Sometimes we do that in a moment of desperation, but the next day when we wake up, the ego is firmly back in place, confident about the new day….and we start the self-torment all over again.

You do that enough times, and hopefully you begin to recognize the pattern. I say hopefully, because it doesn’t necessarily happen in this lifetime. Moreover, it is not as if the answer is in the form of a sentence or two or three. We have to open ourselves to a deep process of inquiry, and begin the journey. Then the value of suffering becomes apparent. Whoever made any fundamental changes in the way they do their life without having had to suffer in some way?

If your life is going very well, you will probably just continue as you are. It is when we begin to wake up to ourselves, that all our prior pain and suffering takes on a deeper meaning and begins to light the way. No one ever said the journey into consciousness was easy, but radical change is possible.

Believe in Love over Goodness:

Believe in Love over Goodness

‘A SLEEP OF PRISONERS’
CHRISTOPHER FRY

The human heart can go the lengths of God…
Dark and cold we may be, but this
Is no winter now.
The frozen misery
Of centuries breaks, cracks, begins to move;
The thunder is the thunder of the floes,
The thaw, the flood, the upstart Spring.
Thank God our time is now when wrong
Comes up to face us everywhere,
Never to leave us till we take
The longest stride of soul men ever took.
Affairs are now soul size.
The enterprise is exploration into God.
Where are you making for
It takes
So many thousand years to wake…
But will you wake, for pity’s sake?

To listen to Sir George Trevelyan recite this poem go to:SirGeorgeTrevelyanRecites_A_Sleep_of_Prisoners

As I looked out at the frozen, but slowly melting lake this morning, and contemplated writing my first entry for this blog, I was reminded of this beautiful poem by Christopher Fry. It has always spoken to me because it contains within it a deep acknowledgement of both the light and dark sides of being human. A number of close friends and associates have been encouraging me to write a blog for some time, but I have shied away from it. Why did I need to add my voice to the cacophony of voices and claims on the internet? What did it matter? Who was I to add anything to any discourse?

I am sure many of you have heard those voices of self-doubt whenever you think about beginning anything new. And of course, my inner critic, like all inner critics of any substance, had some valid points. Ah, there is the rub! We tend to only listen to how it is right, we rarely question how it is holding us back.

As I considered whether or not I would embark on this venture, I thought about the initials BLOG. If it were an anagram, what meaning would it have for me? Believe in Love over Goodness came to me, and somehow that fit. It spoke to an issue I have been considering for some time. As a student of Jungian thought and analytical psychology for over twenty years, I hold Jung’s Answer to Job in the highest regard. In it Jung tackles the whole notion of man’s relation to God, and the very nature of God him/herself. For those of you who are interested, I also strongly recommend Edward Edinger’s Transformation of the God-Image: An Elucidation of Jung’s Answer to Job as a companion book.

What if this world really is created in God’s image? What kind of a god creates a world filled with so much pain and suffering alongside the beauty? I grew up in an Anglican household, and like many other children was forced to go to Sunday school. The story that God was a loving, good, kind god who was all powerful and all knowing did not ring true for me. The whole thing had a false, stale air to it, and I started to dig in my heels. Finally my mother got tired of the fights on Sunday morning and we graduated to another form of spiritual teaching. She was my first spiritual teacher, and over the years until her death, we read many books together and had many wonderful discussions about the meaning of life. Although I had forsaken Sunday school, I always had a strong interest and belief in a higher power, and her wisdom and guidance over the years was inspirational.

However, it wasn’t until I came to Jung’s writings that I had a deeper insight into the potential nature of God. I say potential, because I do not claim to have any ultimate authority, nor did Jung. Like Socrates, he just raised the questions. In a sense, being on a spiritual path, means that you have to figure these things out for yourself, and if you have the inner drive to seek what is true, it will be the beacon of light that leads you onto your path. Jung called this journey the process of individuation. Along the way, you have to shed collective values and thinking and replace them with what you value and hold to be true on a deep soul level.

So coming back to the nature of God and reality, I had to shed the white-washed Anglican notion that God created everything as a good and beautiful world. This is a world of duality, of dark and light, good and evil. But then what is evil? Is it just an absence of good? Or is it a lack of consciousness? As a psychotherapist working with clients over the years, it certainly seemed true that it is when we are caught in those very areas that are like the swamplands of our psyches, that we are most likely to hurt or wound ourselves and others. Another name for these dark pits within us is the complex. It is like an emotional snake pit that we fall into and then start flailing around or lashing out at others. We see this both on an individual and group level. [however I will leave that for another blog entry!]

The Gnostic worldview holds the view that this world was created by a demi-urge, and that this demi-urge could only create or bring forth from itself what is was, and as such, this world reflects that duality of light and dark. But beyond the realm of this demi-urge is a higher God, the one Christ referred to as his true Father, the God of Love.

For those of you who are interested, I encourage you to explore:
TheAudioLectures_of_StefanHoeller

If you have gotten this far, thank you for reading. I would be very happy to receive your comments and insights. We are all in this together!