Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Seeking Clear Reflections and Finding Shadows

spiritual imagery, spiritual awakening, spiritual relationships
In the post awakening phase that I had, I went through a time of seeking clear reflections in others and often finding different shadow aspects of myself. This is actually a profound gift. It's not that this wasn't happening to us before, but with the light of awakening in our hands, we can begin to discern what these relationships are really all about and learn from them. In learning from them, we release old habits, issues, and karmic bonds that keep us locked in cycles of pain and suffering.

However, usually, many of us do not understand the role of our relationships in our lives much less during this time where we've touched so deeply in the inner pools of profound love, stillness, and truth. More often than not, we keep trying to act out our games with other people and attempt to get things. The worst is usually around anything romantic where many people now try to ensnare the perfect spiritual partner (soulmate, twin flame, or whatever) to play out the old ego game where the end result is still seeking safety in partnership.

But as I said, we have a great opportunity in the awakened space to learn about ourselves, so allow me to spend some time musing with you on the topic.

The Many Transitional Relationships

Some time ago, I wrote about transitional relationships. In truth, many relationships can be transitional through out our lives, and more truthfully still, all relationships are constantly changing and shifting. Awakening helps us see that truth in others and in ourselves. From this awareness, we learn that we can be reborn each day, and we can rebirth our relationships each day. If a relationship was dysfunctional one day, two people can come together to change the agreement and make it healthy in the next day, or even the next moment.

I know. It sounds too good to be true.

Well it is for most of people because they are all entirely too committed to their stories and their ego--even after awakening. The embodied phase of awakening is usually a lot of letting go of the ego and re-creating it in the image of the divine and as a tool of the divine. No where can this be more powerful than in the space of relationships with other people.

The Mirrors You Call Into Your Life

In many ways, the people in your life act as mirrors. Those who show us things we like about ourselves, we try to keep around. Those people who show us things we don't like about ourselves, we try to get rid of. For instance, the mean boss at work or the bully at school is often a reflection not necessarily of our cruelty to others (although it could be), but of our giving up/abdicating of our own power. These mirrors are the ones that most people try to fight or run away from instead of understanding them. Understanding and learning to confront the aspects of yourself that have called in such a mirror allow you to transcend the issue. In releasing the issues, it becomes less likely that you'll bring such people into your life again, although not impossible. Or if they are attracted in, the same confrontational situations don't arise because you are now acting in a very different manner than before.

On the positive side, awakening also ushers in a time where we want to understand this light we're shining. So we may also draw in very bright and loving people into our lives. The trick to being with these people is to not get attached to them. Many of them will simply pass quickly through your life as you continue to acknowledge the depth of your own inner light. They may help you to learn something about yourself, and when that lesson is done, the relationship dissolves. So you can see that while the difficult mirrors that come into your life we want to get done with as soon as possible, the pleasurable ones are often the ones that are easiest to ignite attachment issues.

Projecting Your Life Onto the World

Yet, for many of you, you cannot even appreciate the mirrors that you are calling into your life yet. You will switch from projecting your darkness on everything and seeing a world filled with assholes, jerks, manipulators, embezzlers, rapists, murderers, and so forth to seeing a world filled with bright radiant souls, kind-hearted people, philanthropists, healers, and much more. But clear sight does not project itself onto the world. Clear sight sees what is, and there are both aspects of light and dark constantly at work in this world. Waking up doesn't change this. Waking up simply is an embracing of both and seeing everything as it is.

So if suddenly everyone looks beautiful, take a pause. Be present to this and see if this light is really the person as they are or if it's just you seeing yourself. You will be surprised how often it is the latter and not the former. Certainly, everyone is a beautiful soul at their core, but that is not the space from which most people are operating. Most people are trapped in their ideas and illusions, and they don't know how to step beyond their self-made chains. And no matter how much you might like them to break their chains, you can't change them or do it for them, regardless of how much inner light you see in them.

Mirrors like these show you just how much beauty you have, and it is important in this regard to continue to own your light and not be too quick to give it all away before you've had a chance to really anchor yourself in it.

Anchoring Yourself and Deepening Into the Light Spaces

Ultimately, the reflections you see of yourself in others and the ways you project yourself onto others are going to be powerful teachers to help you see more of yourself. Many of these people will be showing you blindspots that you had not seen or had ignored before. Many times, the levels of ignorance we live in is quite extraordinary, and so it can be equally overwhelming when someone shows us just how profoundly loving or profoundly cruel we've been. Often, awakening and the lessons we call into our lives show us both. As you can tell, I'm not perpetuating the naive idea of spiritual awakening that is being circulated around these days in which we just float blissfully about and never see anything disturbing. Those are called rose-colored glasses, and they skew our vision of the world instead of clarifying it.

As you see each person as a lesson for you, you can learn and grow and deepen into your inner space. Your inner space is God, is your connection to God, is your connection to everyone. In that space, the droplet of water is the ocean and yet it is still just a droplet. This is the space that we're connecting to, and once you feel anchored in that inner flow, there is nothing in the world that can knock you off balance again.

Falling In Love with the Spiritual Teacher and Other Light-Full People

Then one day, you find someone who isn't just mirroring your light. You find someone who is shining their own as well. For many people who reach out to me, they are looking for a reflection of their light. This is usually done as a means to have their experience validated. In this crazy world, people write to me wanting to know if they're going crazy. Very rarely do I get a person with actual mental health issues. Usually my answer is that the world is crazy and consumed with greed, lust, anger, hatred, and the usual litany of dis-eases. For some people, connecting with a spiritual teacher or another who is shining his or her life is intoxicating. It's intoxicating to have their love shined back, and it's intoxicating to receive genuine love from another. I often describe true love as the cleanest, clearest, and purest water someone has even drank. Depending on what they were drinking before, the person can be overwhelmed by it or lost in the desire to drink even more. This is when someone becomes lost in desire and attachment issues with a spiritual teacher, healer, yoga teacher, or any other really bright soul (which they may label as a soulmate or twin flame). They can't get enough.

But the truth is that the person already has all this love inside of them. The deeper truth is that for whatever amount of love one feels from the external world, that is like icing on the cake. The greater love is always a feeling within you. Truly, can someone put an emotional feeling in your body? Can someone make your heart feel something? And do you have a series of ideas about when and how to open up to vulnerability and allow yourself the feeling of love? These are important questions as you deepen into the spaces of love and learn the lessons of love these light-bringers have brought into your life.

Many times, I have had moments arise of complete and profound love, and I am just writing at my computer. I am not necessarily writing any spiritual. It could be a freelance email, or I could be doing research on some obscure financial thing for a project...not exactly love euphoria-inducing stuff. Yet love arises. Because that is the state that I cultivate in myself.

Attuning Your Attention for Reflections and Mirrors

So let's be really practical today. I want to make sure that people embrace this opportunity and begin to break out of the old pattern of trying to make people be a certain way or trying to get the world to give you certain types of idealized relationships. Let's start here.

  1. Look at the people in your life.
  2. Review what you like and dislike about them.
  3. Journal about the aspects you like and how they relate to you.
  4. Journal about the aspects you don't like and how they relate to you.

For instance, you like people who are very out-going. Is that a reflection of your own social nature or something that you want to cultivate in yourself? If you are very social, why is that? Is this because it brings you joy or because it is a way to hide from a fear of being alone? In awakening, you may suddenly be thrust into space where you are all alone precisely to face that issue; awakening is smart like that.

After those initial steps, it really is about finding the lesson that feels most true to you and embracing it. If you are learning about a shadow side of yourself like repressed sexuality, you may attract a lot of people with a lot of sexual experience as well as other people who have a similarly repressed sexuality to show you both aspects of yourself. In this instance, I often would encourage people to learn how to cultivate their sexual energy in their own space, but it can be done with others. It just requires a lot more time, care, and loving attention, especially if you've awakened and are moving through a lot of shifts. Before going into that, you may want to read my blog about, "Understanding Spiritual Sexuality."

The Mirror Breaks; You See What Is

Then at some point or at different points, mirrors start to break. You will see a person or multiple people (if you were learning from a specific group, for instance) as they are. If you were working on a shadow side, you may suddenly realize how dark and in pain the people are. If you were working on owning your light, you may suddenly see someone's deeper beauty when the mirror breaks. It all depends on what you were projecting and what life lessons you had to learn because ultimately this is simply taking you to a space where you see things as they are. You let go of your need for the world and your relationships to be any particular way, and from this space, you can actually start to consciously choose the people in your life, perhaps for the first time in your life. At which point, a lot of the old ways of connecting are gone, and you really can appreciate someone exactly as they are.

The two flowers intertwined together on this page come from my friend and photographer, Becky Stiller. You can see her work on her Flickr account.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Psychic Emergence and Spiritual Awakening

spiritual awakening, psychic emergence, spiritual imagery
One of the amazing aspects of spiritual awakening is how it can open us to all of our spiritual gifts. They're all kind of hidden in plain sight. So often as we rest in our awakened awareness, we see how many of the things we have done or said were the very gifts that many of us tried so hard to avoid or ignore on the one hand or unearth or achieve on the other hand. One of those sets of spiritual gifts is often psychic abilities.

I use psychic abilities very broadly. I outline a number of these abilities in a post dedicated to Psychic Healing. The fact is that most people have been ignoring these gifts, and some people have been using them inappropriately. So for many people, the unveiling and emergence of their psychic awareness requires a new mindset and some healing to come into alignment with it. In these regards, I felt like talking in more depth about psychic abilities and how they overlap and are different from spiritual awakening.

Everything Happens All At Once

Part of the amazing truth of this world is that everything is happening all it once. For some of you where time and place are illusions that no longer bind your eyes, you may even feel like you can see and experience all of time and all of the places interacting and shape-shifting in this one single moment. It's kind of mind-blowing. I wouldn't claim to have felt that in any experiential sense, but I know it to be true in my heart. And I can tell you that the more free you allow yourself to be, the more time and place truly only become concepts. You may use them from time to time to pick up the kids or go to work, but after that, they become more like toys that you may not feel beholden to pick up too often.

With that dissolution that can happen in the initial awakening shift, you may suddenly be absolutely overwhelmed by the information and awareness that suddenly bursts forward if you have very expansive psychic abilities. It's kind of like suddenly realizing you have a whole left-side of your body that you've been ignoring. Because you've ignored it, it very likely has a lot of issues as well as is completely out of practice in operating in the world. That means that it's time to get the horse back in front of the cart.

The Difference Between Psychic Awareness and Spiritual Awareness

I also blogged about this topic some time ago. Many psychics confuse seeing spirits, seeing the future, sensing energy, and so forth as a kind of higher or better spiritual awareness. But this is not how it is. It has nothing to do with being awakened or being more spiritual. As I said, psychic awareness is kind of like a part of your body. It's a hand or a foot, and you can learn to do different things with them. Spiritual awareness is the integrity that is necessary to use your psychic awareness well.

With psychic awakening often occurring at the same time as some spiritual awakenings, it's easy to confuse the two. But all that's happened is that the awakening has turned the light switch on, and you can see everything in your life, which may include your psychic abilities. I think the best example of the two occurring at the time is in a movie called Wake Up. This is a very endearing and sweet documentary of man who had a psychic and spiritual awakening at the same time. Suddenly, one day he's seeing spirits where the day before he couldn't. It's quite jarring to say the least, and those of you who have had a similar awakening, I can imagine you didn't quite know what to do with yourselves. But it's okay. Trust the process.

The Many Levels and Types of Psychic Emergence

Because psychic awareness is so poorly understood or narrowly defined, it is important for me to define it a little more. At some level, we all have it, but to differing degrees. At it's most fundamental, psychic awareness is our awareness of the world beyond our five senses. In this way, our intuition and inner knowing is the basis of this type of awareness. It is also absolutely crucial because it will help those of you who have broader psychic abilities to feel what is true for you and how to best navigate your emerging gifts. Consider your inner knowing as a foundation or a compass or both. Without them, it is easy to get lost or to use your awareness in inappropriate ways (like intuiting others secrets and then gossiping about them; not nice at all).

From your intuition, it is a lot easier to move into other types of psychic awareness such as:

  • Energy awareness. This is really broad. It can include how you absorb others' energy and connect with people. It can include being an energy healer. 
  • Channeling information from other beings or dimensions
  • Seeing the future. This can range from seeing what's coming in your life in the coming months to seeing what's coming for others to seeing macro-movements in the world consciousness and other dimensions.
  • Telepathy. This can range from reading other peoples actual thoughts or seeing images from them to interpreting impressions that their energy is sending out (because ultimately our energy is always sending out energy to the world and people around us).
  • Astral project/out of body experiencs
  • Seeing spirits and angels
The are more aspects of psychic abilities, and I only mean to give you an overview. The most important thing for the majority of you is to simply accept them as normal. That's the first and most critical step into accepting your psychic gifts.

Awakening Speeding Up the Cycles of Emergence

For others of you who have stumbled upon the spirituality post and who haven't had an awakening, psychic emergence can still be arising for you. It doesn't need an awakening. An awakening kind of speeds everything up, but since the psychic awareness has always been there, it always wants to be noticed. Many people have the trouble of feeling others emotions and taking them on as their own. Until a person understands their gifts and understands why they take these emotions on, this is considered a problem and not a gift. So you see, as you turn to accept and embrace this awareness, you actually are starting down a path where you are going to feel much more comfortable in your own skin. Always remember that the greatest rejection we ever face in life is self-rejection. Nothing anyone else can do to us can compare.

The Dissolving of the Veils of Illusion

As you continue to embrace your awakening, more illusions fall away. It's like unwinding yourself from multiple veils, and you may see more and more about yourself and others. This is a natural expansion of psychic awareness, and you'll grow into it as much as you need to. Where people tend to get stuck is wherever they get afraid. All I can tell you is that so long as you stay connected to God and trust your inner knowing and your love, then you will be safe. Nothing can hurt you unless you energize it and give it form and access to do so to you. When I say this, I'm speaking more towards those who are interacting with spirit and other energy forms. And the best thing to do really is to draw your energy and awareness inward during the initial time of transition (and this can range from hours to years for different people). Get to know yourself. As new veils dissolve, just pay attention to what you can see about you. Don't worry about what's going on in the world. You will be ready for that when you've fully absorbed and owned your energy space. And in truth, whenever we fully accept and embrace ourselves, we are fully accepting and embracing the world.

The Deepening of Integrity and Responsibility

Regardless of if your ego thought it wanted these gifts or not, you have them. It's important to recognize that they are here. Much like having a left hand, you can choose not to use it, but then, that means you're actively ignoring a key part of yourself.

Along with getting to learn how to use these psychic gifts, you may find that you have a great deal of power. This requires the continued cultivation of integrity and responsibility. These gifts are meant to heal and to help. They are not meant to become tools for some crazy psychic combat or ways to steal secrets. Those are the ways of the unconscious ego which sees the world as split between good and evil, and the unconscious ego ultimately only cares about safety and what it can get for itself. And while I know some of you are initially scared by these gifts, you will be all right. You choose this life, and you will be able to learn how to use your psychic awareness appropriately.

You can't go back either; there's only pain back there. But what is ahead may be extraordinary. Always keep that in mind, especially when the ego and its programming is telling you all these scary stories in your head. Usually when we embrace our gifts and the fullness of ourselves, including our psychic awareness, the world can unfold and blossom for us in amazing and truly unexpected ways.

The flower emerging into full bloom on this page comes from my friend and photographer, Becky Stiller. You can see her work on her Flickr account.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Understanding Releases and Relief on Your Spiritual Journey

spiritual image, spiritual awakening, spirituality picture
One of the big things that happens a lot during the initial phase of embodying the awakened self is that there are a lot of releases. As this energy that is us and that has always been here melts through illusions, there's a kind of washing out of old issues. This can cause temporary sickness or discomfort, but when this issue washes out, you feel so much better. People tend to feel more expanded, loving, and open. These are the key elements of an energy release.

However, most people have been trained by society to seek relief and not release. This post is part of my ongoing re-definition of different terms, and in this post, I encourage you to think of relief as:

The removal of external pressure on a hot button issue.

You can think of release as:

Removal of the hot button issue.

With that said, let's talk about where most of us are coming from and how to embrace the process of release.

The Spiritual Awakening Jolt

When someone rings the bell and turns on the light suddenly in the dead of night, it can be very disorienting. That's how many people come to this blog: completely disoriented. My job isn't so much to tell the person what to do, but to help them calm down and observe what they already know they need to do. If when you awakened you notice that your life is a mess, then start by relaxing into acceptance of this fact. This is one of the first big moments where we are re-training our mind and ego to better serve our spirits. The social conditioning is typically a form of denial, avoidance, or running away. Social conditioning would prefer to blame something, and people often blame the awakening for this mess. But this inner mess was already here. The light in the room did not cause it; it is only illuminating it.

And sometimes that light packs quite a jolt when it flips on.

The Futile Attempt to Avoid Yourself

Yet, for most of our lives we've been avoiding ourselves. We've been avoiding doing what we need to do to live the life that we are called to live. We do it because we are taught that our heart and soul's ideas about how to live are wrong or impractical. We do it because most of the people around us are doing the same thing, and our families do not have the mental, emotional, spiritual, and sexual tools to teach us how to embrace all of ourselves and to deal with issues. So we live our lives running from ourselves. We run by constantly doing things. We run by trying to achieve goals. We run by trying to hide in romantic relationships. We run by listening to media, music, TV, and Internet all the time. We run, and we run until we are fortunate enough to hit a wall. Then, there is an opportunity for some small amount of self-realization.

If an awakening is that wall and you've truly never faced yourself, the terror can be immense. This is simply the terror of seeing what you've been running from.

The Element of Relief

Part of that running is finding ways to achieve temporary relief. Temporary pain relief is the hallmark of Western Society.

If our love life is a mess, then we go out partying, drugging, screwing, and drinking. Of course, the next morning feels terrible, so we find something else to make us feel better (often more drugs or pain relievers). The amount of pain and suffering we are storing inside of us, however, is growing because of these unhealthy pain relief mechanisms. This only adds to the required inner clean-up we need to do.

So we are out of a job. We work like crazy to find a new one. When we find a new job, the fear/pain is gone. The issue that was being activated is no longer being pressurized until you lose/leave this next job. And of course, in many ways, the fear is metamorphosized even in this job. At this new job, you are likely to be acting out of fear, and it's why you suck-up to the boss, try to make everyone do things your way, or another form of acting out. These are all founded in the fear of losing your job and in the feeling you felt when you were out of work. Thus, even here, the pain relief isn't complete.

I can go on and on with examples. Instead, I invite you to begin to see how you use different situations, relationships, shopping, working out, and other actions to avoid elements of yourself. See what is simply a part of your life so that you can avoid feeling or dealing with difficult issues.

The Element of Release

Where relief can only be supplied when life goes according to what you want, release arises from within. So life can still be difficult and uncomfortable, but it doesn't matter. The deeper the release of a core issue, the more you naturally are unperturbed by whatever the external world is doing (and trust me, the external world will not cease to be perturbing, annoying, or painful any time soon).

This is part of why building a crucible to intensify the flames of an awakening is important. Many spiritual retreats are essentially facilitating this type of crucible. It is not meant to be comfortable because usually you have to get the heat up to a certain temperature before you start to release issues. We are so committed to being in pain that it takes all this energy just to get us to let go. It doesn't have to be that way, mind you, but this is how we often have to approach it. As you begin to see all these issues you are carrying and how deeply interwoven they are in your life, the fire of your own awareness begins to build.

Fanning the Flames of Your Liberation

You cannot know the intensity of this process until you have felt it, and each issue is different and requires its own intensity. It's always changing. It doesn't matter if you've met an element of fear a hundreds of times. Each time it arises anew, it seems to require a different quality of love and presence, and it often brings with it different qualities of discomfort. I have truly been humbled to see the many levels and depth of fear and self-loathing that have been caked instead of me, but the release and liberation from much of it is equally extraordinary. I can only give you ideas of what it feels like, and as I've released more and more, I am getting quite comfortable feeling truly good and healthy on the inside instead of the discontent, restlessness, and stuckness that were with me for most of my life.

You too can do this. Some of you already are. Some of you know how wonderful it is to release issues, and this often makes spiritual healing even a little addicting. It can turn into a self improvement trap, but for the sake of this post, let's stay focused on what intentions and love are required to fan the flames and build an appropriate intensity to help you free yourself.

Identification of the Activated Issue

Knowing yourself requires an active engagement with the process of knowing yourself. If you just want to know how to feel good all the time, then you are not engaged. Life doesn't feel good all the time; I wish it did. To truly know ourselves means that we delve into the pain and the joy within us. It means we go into why we do the things we do and why we think the way we think. This is a very helpful psychological introspection, and of course, psychologists, therapists, and psychiatrists are particularly helpful practitioners who can offer valuable insight in addition to you own. This is also where I encourage people to journal. It isn't so much about writing down what things have happened or what you have done. It is more important to begin to understand the how and the why. How you co-created a difficult relationship or a difficult job situation is more important than complaining that your love doesn't do what you want or that your job sucks. Leave the whiner/complainer at the door. They're not helping.

The more you understand yourself, the more you can identify what is activating (or upsetting) you. This is where we have a sacred pause. Because we are so trained to jump to conclusions, take actions to runaway or drive-away discomfort, and otherwise react without thinking, pausing is crucial. Take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself, "Why are you uncomfortable?"

This is the start. You may never have thought this way, so you probably won't have very good answers to this initial question. As you drill down, I've found that the next question is something like, "And why is this a problem?"


"Why am I uncomfortable?"

My girlfriend just left me.

"And why is this a problem?"

Because now I'm alone.

"And why is this a problem."

Because I don't want to be alone.

"Why is that?"

It can get really interesting really fast, and you may be surprised at how much you are addicted to the praise, validation, and acknowledgement of the external world.

Continuing to Go Within

The practice in learning to release issues is a continual encouragement to go within. Go inside to find your love. Go within to find God. God is not some external distant deity (and you can learn more about my definition of God on this link. You never have to accept my definitions, by the way, but you should be developing your own). God is right here with you and within you. God is in everything, and God wants you to let go of these illusions that keep you locked in pain. So much suffering has gone on in God's name, but that is not the truest expression of the divine. To find your truest expression of divinity requires you to continue going within.

Because if you don't--even if you've had an awakening--what happens is that you are likely to re-build an ego identity. This often results in the do-gooder identity and the noble spiritual lightworker, who runs around and tries to help EVERYONE. This person tries to help people s/he is not equipped to help or should not help (because only our connection to source and our inner knowing can tell us what is appropriate and how best to serve and help others). This person can get drained from helping too many people. In the subtle ego desire to help and make people be okay, this person serves no one and exhausts themselves. This, too, is another set of karmic life lessons, and I'm sure a few of you are being taught this or have been taught this lesson. But the lesson is very simple and can be embraced at any time.

Go within.

Find all your love within you. Then when you are fully connected here, whatever you choose to do will arise from love. That arising brings with it the truest flowering of the soul beit as a lightworker, accountant, businessperson, president, non-profit data-entry specialist, or whatever. It is not what you are doing, but how you are doing it.

Standing in the Fire

As you may guess, life is rarely clear cut. When is it time to stay in the intensity, and when is it time to leave? When is this a seeking of relief, and when is it time for rest? This is why the cultivation of your intuition/inner knowing is essential. With that said and especially for those who have awakened, most people need to stay in the discomfort. If you are unhappy that you are unemployed, breathe into that space. See what it takes for you to feel comfortable here. See what it takes for you to trust the flow of where life is taking you. Life will take care of you if you don't resist it. See if you can find what you are resisting. Are you resisting asking for help, taking a different lower-paying job, taking a higher-paying job that requires more responsibilities, choosing a new career, leaving an area, or something else? There are so many ways that we resist life and ourselves. It is important to let the fire show you this resistance and begin to burn it away.

If you don't, this life lesson will remain. The difficulty that has ignited this issue will pass, and another external situation will arise again to reignite it in the days, weeks, and years ahead. This is the cycle of karma and learning, and this is how most people live their lives enslaved to their own ignorance and self-sabotage.

Refraining from Judgment

Of course, it is also important to not judge yourself. You will fail at this from time to time, and that is also part of being human. This doesn't mean that you've truly failed. You may simply have not been ready to release an issue for whatever reason. So if you feel like you keep dealing with the same issue again and again, be kind to yourself. Have compassion, and if necessary, ask for help. There are many of us who can help you as you build your crucible and discover new ways to understand yourself.

Because the point isn't to become some kind of super pure superhuman. The point is simply to embrace your life. The awakening and the path of spiritual healing will naturally take you there, so at times, you will find that you are simply feeling relief. That is okay. When it is time for a deep release, that situation will arise as well, and then I encourage you to embrace the fullness of your unfolding and whatever comfort of discomfort is there with the process of release. The release may be easier than you might have once thought, and the opening that follows may be sheer delight.

The flower picture on this page comes from photographer, Becky Stiller. You can see her work on her Flickr account.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Meeting Your Inner Skeptic

One of the great gatekeepers to your inner knowing and your spiritual path is the skeptic. Everything is going along swimmingly and then suddenly a part of you says, "I don't believe that." And then everything shuts down. The door swings shut. The lock clicks in place, and you can go no further.

I bring this topic up today because I recently had a student's inner skeptic show up in full-force in a session. It was wonderful. It was wonderful in the sense that I could begin to reflect back this aspect of my student. So often, the inner skeptic goes into hiding in the sessions that I have with students. It kinda hunkers down to wait out the storm. Secretly, it thinks to itself that all this spiritual stuff is nonsense. It doesn't believe we are all interconnected, and all this love-talk is just silly romanticism.

Ah, dear skeptical friend, you are simply afraid.

The Un-Intertwining of Judgment and Discernment

Some time ago, I wrote about "The Difference Between Discernment and Judgment." It's an important post. Essentially, judgment comes from the ego; discernment comes from the clear-sight of our inner knowing. However, most of us are so out of practice that everything is intertwined. This makes it difficult to tell right from left, up from down. That's why a good deal of practice is often helpful for many people to listen to their inner knowing. But you can't do it if you run away from that vulnerable space inside you and use every trick in the book that the skeptic knows. I won't tell you that this will be a quick process. I won't tell you that it will be a long process. It will be what it is, but only you can dedicate yourself to pull these two apart.

In a very simple way, discernment is like looking at the sky. "The sky is blue," you say. Judgment is like saying, "I hate that blue sky" or "I love that blue sky" or "That blue sky is beautiful." There is always this additional layer of personal preference added on to what you see. It's why so many relationships go so badly. People have placed so much judgment on their romantic relationships, colleagues, bosses, employees, and friendships that they have no idea who any of these people are. But that's fitting since most people have no idea who they are. Hence you see why it is critically important to go within.

What Is the Inner Skeptic?

But who is the skeptic?

What is it doing? What function does it serve?

The skeptic has a role. If it did not, you would not have created it. I believe that it can be very helpful for people to figure out this role. I always encourage people to have a personal journal for things like this. It's important to break apart these aspects of yourself to see what they are up to. Are they really serving your best interests? Do you even know what your best interests are? A lot of times we think we know what our best interests are, but more often than not, we don't. For many people, there is often a big illuminating moment when they get something that they thought they wanted, and it turns out to not be as great as they hoped. Or it's really great, but the moment quickly passes. They may soon get lost in yearning and striving to get that moment back, which ultimately generates more and more suffering.

So to begin to deconstructing the inner skeptic, you need to start figuring out what you are about and why you are doing what you are doing. Then you can turn your attention to the skeptic.

The Land of "I Don't Believe That"

Discernment and the spiritual path aren't in the land of believing everything you hear. Your skeptic may want to tell you that. Your skeptic may have an impression that you have to swallow a religion or spiritual path hook, line, and sinker (I'm really not sure where that expression comes from. Is that a fishing reference?). Anyway, that kind of credulous spiritual seeking is nothing but trouble. It is brainless and shows a lack of responsibility and discernment. I never want any of you to simply believe everything I write or say in my videos. I am teaching the reverse. I am teaching you to learn how to consciously question life and to see what is before you without projecting your own ideas, judgments, and assumptions on to things. The more you do this, the more clarity you will have in your life.

But primarily, the skeptic doesn't really believe in anything. It can be cynical, sarcastic, or a kind of know-it-all. (And yes, I have plenty of experience in this because I've had to work with a pretty nasty inner skeptic of my own). The skeptic thinks it is protecting you, and thanks to those few, but powerful spiritual teachers who have abused their powers, the skeptic arising in Western Culture is particularly distrusting of anything spiritual. So it is always ready to turn from the spiritual path at the slightest disturbance, which is often right when things are starting to really get moving for someone.

Breaking Down the Skeptic

To really break the skeptic apart mean to understand your own motivations and the social motivations around you, especially your family. In Western Culture, we worship money, fame, and science. If we don't see tangible results from something immediately, we devalue it. We say that it's not worth our time. Science has become the much-vaunted ideology of our time, but it's a strange thing in many regards. All science tells us is what has happened in the past under certain conditions at a certain time with a certain sample. However, we boldly apply the results of that experiment as something that will continue to occur as in the original experiments to a wide variety of situations. But smart scientists know that we never really know what will happen. It's more true to speak of science in probabilities and likelihoods of something happening, but that's not what we do.

And make no mistake about it, I like science. It's pretty amazing, although I think it has out-stripped our moral abilities and ethical intelligence to use it appropriately. We can cause so much more suffering now than at any other time of human development; it's quite frightening. In some ways, I think that science and technology have created an impetus for the arising of consciousness to balance out this part of the equation so that we don't eradicate ourselves.

All of this is to simply show where the skeptic often likes to hide. It likes to hide behind science and popular ideas about what is important like money and fame. It likes to hide in family values. It likes to hide behind religious texts. It likes to use other people's ideas ("Well, so and so said this, so that's why I believe that."). But it cannot hide from the truth, and the more you look from a space of inner knowing, the clearer it becomes that all the skeptic really is is a function of fear.

Facing Your Fears

Again and again, the skeptic is a tool of fear. It's lies to get you to turn away from embracing love can keep you trapped for a life time. Clearly, the mind that has been healed of this kind of skepticism to allow discernment to take its place can be an immensely powerful thing. In effect, you can't be fooled, which is what the skeptic thought it was doing all along. But the truth is that you're being fooled by the master fooler. You are the fool, and only you can bring wisdom into your life.

At first, you probably won't want to hear the truth. (I spoke about how people fear wisdom and hearing the truth in a recent YouTube video.) We are so used to lies from within and without that we don't often know what to do when someone speaks the truth. It's kind of like the emperor's new clothes. The emperor is so used to being lied to that being told the truth, e.g. he's naked, is shocking. Consequently, as you get closer to the truth inside you at times, your skeptic may go on over-drive. You'll hear all kinds of fearful thoughts about how you'll be hurt, this path is bullshit, and why do you have a spiritual path/teacher/healer/guide anyway? All of these last ditch efforts are meant to hook you back into fear. They may work again and again, but at some point, you may get sick of this. At some point, you may just laugh.

"Oh silly, skeptic. You do not know what you are talking about," You may say.

Then, it's time to let go and drop a little deeper. See if you can release a little more fear. See what follows.

The Rehabilitation of the Skeptic

The skeptic will be reborn. It is reborn through the awareness that simply sees life. Let us call this reborn skeptic the "Discerner." The discerner does not operate from fear, control, shame, anger, or any of the usual crappy little tricks and attachments of the skeptic. Practicing being in the space of the discerner makes life exceptionally clear. It becomes exceptionally clear what you need to do or whether you need to do anything. The issues around safety melt away, which is one of the primary fears of the skeptic. Again and again, where you would have been afraid or gone into a state of disbelief, denial, or some other form of mental resistance, you simply observe. You find out just how few things require responses.

So much of what we say from the space of the skeptic is nonsense and intellectual junk. It has little value. The inner skeptic generally is trying to maintain and build an ego sense of self. Conversely, the discerner is a much more relaxed space of awareness. You don't have to prove who you are. It doesn't matter. Being you just requires you to be you. There's no effort to this. For those who have developed skeptics who are trying to control the spiritual path and spiritual growth, this is an important reminder. Nothing needs to be forced here to be you. Nothing really is required to rehabilitate and transform the inner skeptic because the discerner is always here. From this space, your decisions are much easier to make and life is so much easier to live. The struggle is gone. You can simply be you.

The sky and yellow flowers picture on this page comes from photographer, Becky Stiller. You can see her work on her Flickr account.
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