Materials Needed: tape recorder, drawing materials, journal, place to do a fire ritual, bowl of water and tinder
Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search
The Gospel According to Thomas*
Healing the Male Soul (Or The Pregnant Virgin below)
Emergence of the Divine Child or Windows to the Soul*
Healing the Child Within
The Pregnant Virgin (Or Healing the Male Soul, above)
Practices and Exercises:
Healing the Soul
Wholeness and Self
Dialogue with the critic
Renunciation of control
* You may already have these books
Exercise: Healing the Soul
You may read one or both of the following books. Woodman's book is oriented toward women and Judy's is toward men.
The Pregnant Virgin by Marion Woodman is about transformation and how to retrieve lost consciousness and the deep feminine in both men and women: the virgin or the one-in-herself. She takes us back and forth between the child losing consciousness and the adult becoming conscious in order to discover how to awaken the archetype of our Self.
Dwight Judy takes a Christian approach to the Hero's journey in Healing the Male Soul: Christianity and the Mythic Journey. He takes a fresh look at original sin and some of the ancient gods and goddesses to try to understand the male's journey to higher consciousness. He talks about aggression, and the quests for purity of heart, fortitude, vision and loving service.
When you have finished reading, make notes in your journal of the ideas that you feel are relevant to your journey. What have you learned so far about how to heal your soul? What are the key concepts for you in this study of how to reclaim those lost parts of yourself? How will you work with them to spur your own transformation?
All of the exercises in this guidebook have been designed to help you explore, understand and heal your own issues of soul loss. By recovering the memories of ancient pain and trauma, we can take a fresh, mature look at them and find them no longer threatening, so they can be released. This is a kind of psychic housecleaning. And, as we discard old, outdated scripts and scenarios, we recover the energy that was being spent keeping them hidden. What follows are some more healing ideas taken from the Yogic and Buddhist disciplines.
It really comes down to a question of honesty and truth. Will I be authentic or will I empower the false self? J.F.T. Bugental (1989) in The Search for Authenticity speaks to just this issue. There is an existential dilemma in being human. We have free will and the power to make choices. However, we never seem to have all the information we need to make these choices. Still, we are compelled to make them. It is that way with identity. We might believe, on some level, or even know that we are divine beings. Yet, it does not feel that way. It feels as if we are unworthy of such a high calling. Besides there is too much responsibility attached to sainthood. It is easier and less challenging to just identify with the false self. Everyone knows that person and that person knows all the moves. They are well-practiced from childhood. So what is the problem? Why can we not just pull in our heads and be happy in our ignorance? Well, there are several reasons.
In the first place, there is that elastic pull to go Home. The bond will not let go. We are captured by our own divinity, our divine identity. Something in us knows who we are and will not let us off the hook until we are fully optimized. The spiritual child wants to grow up, is impelled to grow up. It pushes for release as a fetus presses toward birth. It wants to BE what it is. It cries with its hungers to be real. And we hear it on our inner levels. It pulls at our heartstrings to be answered. A child is crying. What will you do? How can you turn away?
Another facet of the problem is that of self-acceptance. Matthew Fox, a former priest, got himself excommunicated from the Catholic church because he essentially denies the doctrine of original sin. Instead, Fox (1983) says goodness is our basic nature because we are creations of God. And look at the language around it. God and good come from the same root word, god or gudo in Old English. So goodness means god-ness or in the likeness of god. The Buddha and the Great Eastern Sun in the Buddhist tradition also stand for our inherent goodness, so the concept is not unique to Fox. We are taught all our lives how important it is to try to be good. But we are never taught that we are good to begin with, that we start from that position of grace and power. Do churches fear loss of control over people if they find out they are basically good?
The fallout from this attitude of godlessness is that we have a great deal of trouble accepting ourselves. We must keep trying for perfection, as if we were not already perfect in our basic humanity. It is true that personal development requires us to work on ourselves, but that does not necessarily deny our perfection. We are asked to become more conscious. And we are asked to not harm others, or ourselves in the way we live. And we are asked to love others. But how many of us try to be godlike? Is not that an impossible dream, an unreachable goal? Well, not if we are already there. The Yogis teach us that it is merely a matter of acceptance. Just say "yes" to your God-self. Does that set off alarms of blasphemy in your mind? If so, you have an example of social conditioning.
We feel soul loss because a part of our self is cut off from reality. We do not know who we are. We cannot accept our divinity, or we will not accept our divinity. We have bought into the myth of imperfection, of enslavement, of disempowerment. It is important to warn you again that we are not talking about an ego trip. Some people who are psychotic declare that they are god, and we put them in institutions. Some of these may be unrecognized mystics and others are just crazy. We tell the difference by examining them to discover the state of their egos. If the ego is healthy and serene, they are mystics; if the ego is unraveled, unrestrained or absent and panicky, they are diagnosed as psychotic. One could, on a superficial level, declare "I am God" and go on a social rampage doing a great deal of damage to others. On the other hand, a true mystic is identified by his/her humility, silence, renunciation and service to others. None of these are characteristic of someone on an ego trip. Those persons who truly accept their divinity are godlike, and no one is likely to misinterpret their goodness.
Ratnasambhava, whom we met before, is a good model of godliness. He is equanimous, full of joy and abundance. Self-acceptance.
Exercise: Wholeness and Self
1. Read Healing the Child Within. Take notes as you go on those parts of it that resonate for you and that feel like they would bear more focused attention. Then, when you are finished, write a self-reflection paper to help you organize what you have learned about yourself. You might want to include an analysis of your family interactions that may be contributors to your own personal issues.
2. Read chapters 11-12 in Emergence of the Divine Child or in Windows to the soul. Then do the White Light and Transformation exercises in the appendix of Phillips' book. You may want to order his tapes from the Deva Foundation to guide your imagery. If not, I suggest you tape the instructions for yourself leaving plenty of silent time between each direction to give yourself time to experience each separate step. When you have finished, compare the two therapies. Both are useful as they aim at different aspects of your self. Make some notes on how you might use what you have learned toward self-acceptance.
3. If you can find a copy, read The Gospel According to Thomas. Think about how Jesus interprets the divinity of humans. What do you make of the counterpoint between Jesus and his disciples? What is the Kingdom of God? Now look back over the "Song of the Pearl." Has it acquired any new meanings for you?
4. In your next meditation, ask for a symbol for your soul. When you get up, draw and color it, so you can remember it. Is it an image of wholeness? If not, what does it need to make it so?
Universal Principle - Creative Purpose
Angeles Arrien (1987) has collected a set of universal healing principles one of which is creative purpose. She associates this with the inner child, that one of which we have been speaking. She says, "The healing power of creative interests, the feeling of having something to do, something that can transcend time, something that has passion, heart and meaning is very potent . . . Whatever has meaning, passion, heart is a reservoir of healing energy that never stops" (p. 26) Underline passion, heart and meaning.
This connects with childhood because that is a time when we are able to get completely engrossed in whatever we are doing. Child's play is creative play, and it fully expresses who the child is. Nothing changes about that process as we grow older except that we stop doing it, most of us anyway. We say, "Oh, I haven't any talent," or "I don't have time," etc. Such rationalizations more often than not stem from our inner critic that will not let us make something or do something just for fun - or something that is likely to be imperfect.
However, creativity has nothing to do with perfection. It has to do with joy, with life, with exuberance, with bubbling over, with intuition chasing itself. Arrien (1987) says, "When we rekindle our early creative interests, we are recapturing the healing energy of the Inner Child, the Divine Child within. That will re-ignite our life purpose or life myth." (p. 27)
On a day when you can find a few hours to be by yourself, go out into a natural area: park, woods, beach, etc. and take a solitary walk. As you go, try to recover the perspective you had as a child. Look at everything no matter how small and begin to collect small things that speak to you as a child gathers treasures. Here is a sand dollar, or perhaps it's a bird's egg that fell from the tree. You know.
When you get home, put all your findings on a table and consider how you might put them together to make something, like a shadow box or a collage. If you went to camp as a child, you may remember some of the crafts you did there. If not, no matter, you can be creative. Take your time and enjoy the unique qualities of each item. Savor the sight, smell and touch. Examine each of them minutely and see what it tells you about its life. When you are finished, find someone to share your creation with as if you were still a child doing "show and tell."
Make some notes in your journal about what was awakened in you.
Healing Attribute: Non-Judgment
Both Rick Phillips (1990) and Fields, Taylor, Weyler & Ingrasci (1984) emphasize the importance of non-judgment in healing. This speaks to the issue of perfection discussed above. Fields, et al call it non-judgmental acceptance or equanimity. By this, they mean not evaluating things or people but just accepting each moment as it is. "Living in the NOW" or "living in the moment" or "mindfulness meditation" all relate to that. But the critical factor is non-evaluation. And that should start at home - with self-acceptance.
Evaluation is harmful because it generates fear of loss of love. This essentially cuts away at a child's basic security since it is based on parental disciplinary measures that involve withdrawal of love when a child misbehaves. It is what has taught us that we must try to be perfect. Otherwise, we feel, no one will like or love us. Since none of us is perfect in the sense of the model behavior demanded by our teachers and parents when we were children, we all feel imperfect even if we do know that we are created in the image of God and are, therefore, necessarily perfect. There's a gap, you see, between the knowledge and the gut-level perception or feeling. This gap is called maya or ignorance. We are ignoring what we know to be true.
If all of this is correct, then a major step on the road to healing is acceptance, the opposite of judgment. And we begin by systematically erasing the unrealistic standards of perfection we have set up and working to get the inner critic down to size. This may be a lifelong task, so do not be surprised if you do not see results right away. However, if you are diligent and awake, you can make significant gains.
Exercise: Dialogue with the Critic
1. Find a time when it is quiet and you are unlikely to be interrupted. Get your journal and seat yourself comfortably at a table or desk. When you are ready, close your eyes and go within. Take enough time to quiet your mind and breath. Then bring your attention to your heart center. Breathe into it until your bodymind relaxes. Then ask your critic to come forward for a dialogue. You may not want to call it that. Perhaps it is the voice of one of your parents or a teacher or a boss or a childhood peer. If it seems reluctant to talk with you, imagine a scene from the past in which you were being judged by someone who made you feel inferior and insecure. Relive it for a few moments; then, taking the position of your Higher Self or your Observer Self (who is detached), engage the person who is mistreating you politely. You might begin by sympathizing with what s/he is feeling to draw him/her out. When you have been able to establish rapport, begin a dialogue with that person to try to discover his/her motivation and what is behind his/her need to evaluate you. Then, still from the position of your Higher Self, continue the dialogue until you reach a satisfactory outcome. Write down the dialogue as it occurs, so you get it all down on paper. When you are finished review what you have written. Put it aside, then come back in a week and reread it to see what new insights it offers with some distance.
2. Accepting ourselves as perfect is a matter of changing self-image which is an ingrained concept of long standing. Give some thought to how you might do this, and record your ideas in your journal.
Niyama - Contentment
Contentment means living in the Now, neither relishing the past nor hoping for the future. It means doing what is in front of us, attending to the tasks at hand. It means renunciation of outcomes, rewards and satisfactions. Buddhists call it equanimity, the ability to remain centered and stable regardless of what is going on around us and whether it is good or bad. It means giving up evaluation, criticism, comparison and competition. It means being satisfied with what we have, where we are living, who our friends are and our status in society. It is stability, the earth element. We are grounded and happy wherever we are and in whatever state of life. Someone at the Ashram once said, "Bloom where you are planted." Contentment.
1. Cleansing. Most of us eat and drink too much and, consequently, our bodies are stressed to eliminate all the toxins. This becomes a more serious problem as we age and the body's systems weaken under the strains. Apparently systematic abuse of the body cumulates over time. So it is a good idea to give the body a chance to rest occasionally. Some people fast once a month for a day. I am not recommending you go overboard and fast for a week or more, and certainly you would not do this without professional guidance. However, a day on juice or just water can be a welcome relief to the body giving it a chance to flush out accumulated toxins.
Find a time when you will not be tempted to eat by social constraints and fast for a day. Take only juice or water. If you like, find a cleansing formula to help the body eliminate wastes such as lemon juice and water. If necessary, have an enema. Remember that the skin is an eliminative organ. Give yourself a long, soaking bubble bath and/or use restorative herbs such as rosemary and camomile in the water. Avoid stressful encounters and pamper yourself. Massage your feet. They have nerve endings in them from all over the body. Sleep. A solitary Sunday might offer good timing.
Notice your body's reaction to this treatment and make notes in your journal. You may want to adopt some special nourishing treatments on a regular basis. We ignore and mistreat our bodies all too often. Thank your body for its faithful service to you.
2. Purification and Communion Ritual. Design your own healing ritual for the separation and emptiness you feel. This will follow roughly the outlines for ritual given earlier in Book I, Unit 8. However, this time, reflect first on your feelings about separation. How do you experience it personally? Where in your body is the tension around it? Who in your past is associated with it? What kind of pain is it? Do you have negative emotions around it? Which ones specifically? What triggers them? Write all this down in your journal. If tears come, allow and honor them.
Put together a ritual that will acknowledge the pain and enable you to accept and move beyond it. Notice that in Catholic and Episcopal religions, a confession comes early in the ritual of communion. This acknowledges your responsibility in the separation. It need not carry overtones of fault, sin or wrongdoing. Rather, see it as a recognition of mistakes made in learning the Way. The ego is responsible for our perceptions of separation from the Divine, so it needs to admit this in order for you to move forward. In every spiritual tradition, it is acknowledged that we cannot do it alone because human beings are finite and fallible. We need Divine help and intervention. A confession requests this. It is perhaps also a good idea to specify what aspects of self need purification. The ego, maybe; the critic, the autocratic boss?
Both fire and water are traditionally used for purification. In Yoga, there is a rite called a puja which is used for cleansing and dedication. A fire may be used to burn up negativity, perhaps represented by lists or symbols of grudges, resentments, negative emotions, etc. Water is used for cleansing as in baptism or the washing of hands or feet prior to something sacred. Buddhists offer water to their deities as a gesture of hospitality and sacrifice. So some use of either or both of these is probably appropriate.
As part of the ritual, design something around food. Notice that the use of food occurs almost universally in spiritual rituals, which reflects a recognition of its basic symbolic value in connection. We eat together as a form of communion. It probably goes back to earliest history when a clan sat together in a ring around the fire to eat together. Eating together is a manifestation of trust and sharing. A group sitting in a circle to eat together turns its back on the world and demonstrates its cohesiveness within the circular formation. Both trust and sharing refer back to infant learning and experience, so problems that originated there may possibly be healed there, on the symbolic level. Symbols are timeless and simultaneous, remember, belonging to the right hemisphere. Incidently, symbols have powerful messages for the unconscious, so they may reach that level even when the conscious mind cannot access the source of a problem. The sharing of food, therefore, might be used as a symbol of reconciliation or reunion.
Gratitude must be expressed for all our blessings and for the care and protection of the Divine One. It would also be appropriate to express thanks to and for those in our lives who have made us happy or provided us with protection and love. Giving back keeps the circuit open. Remember this.
Yama - Non-dependence and Non-greed
Yamas, unlike Niyamas, are right attitudes. Recall that an attitude has components of both idea or concept and emotion. Yamas define the proper interaction with the environment. They are moral principles and abstinences that tell us how to live, or they give us the right ethical attitudes needed for the reintegration and unification that is the essence of Yoga. If you think of them as guidelines for living, there is less of a "should" implied. We do want to get away from evaluation. So think of yamas as signposts that point the way to a happier life or to turnings on the path.
Non-dependence and non-greed mean renunciation or detachment. Most people think of renunciation as giving up something. It has that significance, but it also means canceling the need for accumulation, attention, love, possessions, results, psychic powers, competition and comparison. It means giving and sharing as well. At another level, it means giving up trying to control everything and would include releasing negative self-image and self-evaluation also. Attachment is holding on or grasping in whatever form it may take. Non-dependence means freedom from neediness. Freedom is discovered by letting go - of everything we are hooked into.
Exercise: Renunciation of Control
1. For several days watch yourself and your need to control, whether that be events, productions, people or outcomes. Your particular nemesis will undoubtedly surface if you are open to seeing it. If it does not, try the Twilight Imaging technique (Appendix A) to ask for the information you need.
2. When you identify the tendency you would like to work on, monitor your own behavior for a week and begin to let go of control. You may find, at first, that you just go blindly into doing it for a while before you notice what is happening. However, if you keep your mind on it, you will gradually become aware of it earlier and earlier until finally you are able to stop it before it begins. One way to remind yourself to monitor it every day is to attach a very brief daily reminder to something you do every morning such as cleaning your teeth, or you might want to stick a tag on the mirror.
Release of controlling will take more than a week, of course, and it may never completely disappear. Still, you can experiment with the parameters of the problem and then decide whether you want to continue dealing with it. I have found that my work with this issue goes in cycles. I will clear one hurdle, then it returns in more subtle forms. However, I do see progress, and people seem to like me better. The real payoff is that Spirit now gives me what I need whenever I stop trying to make it happen.
Precept - Not Stealing
Not stealing is a major tenet in every religious tradition. In this case, we will be looking at the Buddhist attitude toward it, but it is also one of the yamas in Yoga and one of the ten commandments in Judaism and Christianity. We are all familiar with the idea that it is wrong to take something that does not belong to us. However, the eastern traditions take this principle a few steps further.
Buddhists say that the intention, application, and the fruition of intention and application have to be fulfilled in order to break a precept. That means that we have to mean to take something, actually do it and then benefit from it in some way. They suggest that you make a vow to keep each of the five precepts every twenty-four hours. Presumably this makes it easier to keep in mind. You remind yourself every morning before the day begins, for example. Alternatively, you might choose to journal every night reviewing your day and setting up options for tomorrow.
In Yoga, the yama of not-stealing means, in addition to the usual denotation, to live your own life, avoid manipulating others, to give credit to others, to be generous, to make positive responses, to be clear about our own purposes in life, to learn to say "No," and to avoid stealing ideas, time, and energy as well as goods. We should say only positive things about others and avoid gossip which takes away someone's good reputation. You can see that these ideas extend the meaning of non-stealing beyond our usual concept of it. Trying to manipulate others takes away their choice. Not giving credit steals their reward or positive feedback, lack of generosity takes away another's ability to receive. To make negative responses can steal any number of things including another's self-respect, pleasure in whatever is going on, equanimity, etc. Lack of clarity can take up someone's time, and not saying "No" denies the other a clear idea of where you are coming from and an opportunity for an egalitarian relationship with you. This gives you an idea of how to construe these precepts.
Exercise: Saying "No"
We all have trouble saying "No" under some circumstances whether it is refusing your darling daughter her own way, your wife a new dress, your boyfriend a date, your boss the right to waste your time or the neighbor's cat a bathroom in your flower bed. Wherever your weakness is, you will know it. If not, observe yourself for a few days and see where you tend to cave in. When you identify those occasions, give some thought to how you might have said "No" in a gracious manner that is not confrontative instead. Then, when you begin to see how you get caught, start to practice catching yourself in that half second before you say "Yes" to give yourself time to consider whether you might really prefer to decline.
I am reminded of a colleague when I was teaching in college who was asked, in a very rude manner, to defend something very trivial. He smiled at the offender and replied, "Do you really want me to answer that?" Another possibility is to ask, "Did you really mean to accuse me of stealing your pencil?" which puts the focus on the other's intentionality. Most people do not mean to offend you. They just do not think and do things impulsively. So, before you take offense, it might be useful to question their motives which gives them a chance to apologize and recant.
When someone is ordering you around in an authoritative manner, especially if they do not have the right to do so, it sometimes helps to try to discover the underlying motivation and then speak directly to that. For instance, a peer or a person in the next rank up orders you to do a personal favor for him/her and you feel that is not your job. You might say something like, "Jack, I'd like to help you out but I'm on my way to shelve these books right now. Sorry." If it is someone who has the right to ask the favor, but who is rude, you might reply - gently and a bit more quietly than usual, "Are you in a hurry for that now? I'd like to finish this errand first?"
"I'm sorry, but I don't think that is my department." "I don't have the energy for that right now." "Can I get back to you on that? I'm on my way out right now." "Could we do that another time?" "Sorry, but I'm not especially interested in stock car races." These are some ideas of how you might decline. An interesting thing to keep in mind is that it is harder for someone to have to do something they dislike than for someone to not get what they want. So your inclination to decline should be honored by others whether they understand your motives or not. Likewise, you are not obligated to fulfill another's wishes. Each person should be responsible for meeting their own needs. And "wants" are way down on the list. No one else has the right to make demands on your time or energy except perhaps infants. Even a boss should make a polite request, and you have good reason to question him/her if a demand is issued instead. This is an example of how someone else can steal from you. You would react defensively if someone tried to steal your wallet, wouldn't you? The spiritual path does not require wimphood. So, if you are inclined to let others take advantage of you, learn how to say "No". . . gracefully, of course.
There is no us. (Chogyam Trungpa, 1975, p. 268)
Let us return for a moment to the Buddhist view of the way things are. When we stop filtering our perceptions through our concepts of how things ought to be, we become able to see them in their unconditional truth. We have a direct perception of what is in all its clarity and beauty. And that enables us to relate to the world and others without struggling with all kinds of superficial veils of illusion. In that state, we discover that there are three types of relationship: I as the doer, my act as the doer, and the object of my action. However, none of these really exists except as concepts. Concepts separate doer, doing and done to because that is what concepts do - bestow boundaries. In reality, the doer, the action and what the action is done to are all one seamless whole, flowing into each other without any boundaries. Physics knows this.
Paramitas are practices that help us to transcend the conceptual levels of the world. They also transcend notions of enlightenment because these are concepts also. "Par-" means the other side of the river, and "mita" is the one who got there. So paramitas mean the transcendent actions of one who is going beyond. This kind of person is called a bodhisattva, one who is on the way to an awakened mind.
The first paramita is generosity (dana). This goes beyond simply offering someone something. It means being willing to part with whatever precious thing you have especially something you want to hold on to. This means not only things, but skills, ideas, attitudes, concepts, knowledge, needs such as the need to be perfect, etc. The essence of this practice is not wanting to possess anything for oneself. You can see the relationship of this idea to renunciation as defined by Yoga. It is easing up on the grasping and clinging. It is feeling we are enough just as we are.
This paramita speaks to the fundamental deep down psychological hunger or possessiveness we all feel. The need to secure our safety is an example or to hoard food against an atomic attack. The ultimate generosity is surrender of ego and an opening up of ourselves to receive from others. Refraining from giving advice is generosity in this sense because advice-giving is an ego trip. Not giving it grants the other the opportunity to find his/her own way. When we get beyond pride and beyond virtue and beyond reward, we are beginning to be generous. Open-heartedness is generosity. So is trust.
Another paramita that is relevant to this chakra is patience. Trungpa defines patience as wrathlessness, being willing to continue in spite of adversity, and a sense of forbearance. (Trungpa, 1975, p. 270) It means we tolerate pain, aloneness, misunderstanding, attack and other invasions of our self without being resentful. Patience has an element of intelligence in it, however, that distinguishes it from the brute endurance we see in work animals. It is informed by the energy of understanding that comes from awareness and seeing a situation correctly. Patience can stay in the moment. It is easy to see that this is a practice that could last a lifetime. However, it is being offered here in the context of the forgiveness that is necessary in order to transmute childhood trauma into something we can live with.
Well how, you may well ask, can I both say "No" and practice generosity and patience at the same time? Well, they do go together. We say "No" in a spirit of generosity and patience. We give up our own anger and focus attention on the other person to whom we are saying "No." As we open ourselves to whatever they are feeling, the saying "No" becomes a blessing because we are not allowing them to be despotic or rude. At the same time, we are holding them in empathy and grace with compassion for their humanity and imperfections. It is the same kind of forbearance that Jesus taught, only expressed a tad differently. Perhaps you can incorporate some of this essence into the exercise on saying "No" that is given above.
The Eightfold Path
The eightfold path is the Buddha's path to being awake. It includes; 1) right view, 2) right intention, 3) right speech, 4) right morality or discipline, 5) right livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right mindfulness, and 8) right samadhi. Three of these are particularly germane for the second chakra.
Right view is seeing the situation just as it is, the direct perception discussed above. The wrong view is conceptualization because it is fixed and frozen ideas. In this context, we need to get a right view on our upbringing, take a fresh look at what happened from our new perspective of patience and forbearance. What is it to us now? Can we forgive and let go? Release the past? Free it from judgment and resentment? It happened, we understand it, it is gone. Now we can let go, let it go into oblivion.
Right intention means not wishing life was something other than it is: acceptance of the givens. "Right" in this context is not opposed to wrong. It means "what is." We are directly perceiving life as it really is and are not inclined to change it. Ordinary intention, on the other hand, is a thought process that leads us to act. It has an emotional component which inclines us to either invite or attack. Right intention would require us to give up the struggle. We might relax and enjoy life if we could stop trying to make it conform to our preconceived notions of how it should be happening.
Right morality/discipline means giving up control over others. Rather than ego controlling and projecting strategies, we can lead a straightforward life that is simple and direct. This reminds me of the saying "Live in the moment." We do not have to improve ourselves or strive toward perfection or other goals of self-improvement. We just "do what is in front of us." Simple living. I do my thing and allow you to do yours without interference. If you impinge on my space, I say "No." But I do not invite you to impinge on my space. And I do not invade yours. I keep my wants curtailed and do not expect you to satisfy them. Nor do I try to change your life. I try not to complicate matters but to be direct and truthful in all my dealings.
All of these healing ideas contain the germ of acceptance. If we can accept the way things are, then we can let go of control. As we have explored childhood training, we have discovered many insults and inflictions of pain. Now that we are beginning to understand them, it is time to accept that they happened, to bless the child we were, forgive the perpetrator, and let the grudges go.
Exercise: Release Ritual
Make a list of all the things you have been unearthing about your childhood that have caused you pain or that have distorted your life in some way. Reflect on them and what they mean to you.
Next create a ritual to release them. The usual way is to open a prayer session, outside if possible because you will be building a fire. Follow the usual procedures of ritual (consult Book I, Unit 11 for ideas or the Ashtanga Yoga Primer [Dass, 1977] if you still have it for the sequences). Add to the usual ritual a section in which you offer your list to your special god or goddess. Then burn it. Following that, wash your hands and offer a prayer of gratitude. Ask that you be relieved of any negative emotions associated with your experiences in the past and for the grace to move forward in your life unencumbered by the past.
I am not going to attempt to explain the role of shamanism in soul retrieval because my knowledge of that is too limited. However, there are a number of good books on the subject including Soul Retrieval by Sandra Ingerman, The Spirit of Shamanism by Roger Walsh, Shamanism by Shirley Nicholson and The Way of the Shaman by Michael Harner. Ingerman's book is specifically focused on soul retrieval and she does workshops all over the world so would very likely be accessible if you should want to work on yourself with her guidance.
Shamans have experience in visiting other realms of existence and, presumably, can go find your soul or pieces of it that may be in hiding. I have not experienced these techniques, so cannot recommend them personally. However, if you are oriented toward such practices, you may find some answers there. Native American traditions are another potential source of healing. However, if you follow that route, be especially mindful of their sensitivity about sharing their traditions with other ethnic groups.
Water is the element of the second chakra. It is often used as a symbol of the soul and/or spirit because it moves freely and seeks to level and balance itself wherever it may settle. It is governed by gravity which brings it home to the ocean. It can also be evaporated and become clouds or mists or rain which travel through space only to fall once more and refresh all life on earth. It can also freeze if the climate is cold enough. All of these ideas are metaphors for soul. We see that water stagnates when it is held in one place. So does soul. It must grow or begin to regress. Water can free itself from boundaries through evaporation, so soul goes free of the body in sleep and visions. As water freezes, so does soul in a climate of hatred and neglect.
The essence of life is the willingness to change. We change or begin to die. Everything in nature follows this rule including all of humanity and its cultures. Whatever is stopped becomes tamasic, inert, dead. So we take our cue from this and look for opportunities to go beyond what we presently are, to become what we may be, not pushing or pulling, but allowing the expansion that is natural and inevitable.
When this allowing is extended it becomes surrender to the Higher Power. We let life live us, we invite the One to use our bodies and minds to do Its work and fulfill Its plan. We trust the larger purpose to carry us where we need to be and to show us what we need to do. We also trust our unfinishedness, and the notion that evolution is being carried out through our lives though we may not know either its purpose or its destination. We do not believe because we know that all that is happening on earth is within the intention of the One.
But we can also go Home in meditation. That is wholeness. We can identify with our Higher Self. That is wholeness. We can allow our lives to unfold naturally, gently and peacefully. That is wholeness. We are whole and we are also clear because we are able to discriminate. The movement back and forth from one to the other is fluid and effortless. That is wholeness. The clarity is conscious and awake. That is wholeness. Come Home. Be whole.
Exercise: Spiritual Practice
Select one of the practices that feels most allied to your purposes and make a commitment to do it on a regular basis. If you wish, you may combine two or more of them. For instance, Hatha Yoga, Pranayama and Meditation make a good set. Twilight imaging and journaling go neatly together as do dream analysis and journaling. Drumming and chanting mix nicely. So do chanting and meditation (meditation follows chanting so the vibrations can sink in). Whatever you choose to do, make a private, personal time (and enough time that you are not rushed) for it in your daily schedule and do it every day. Think of it as your own time. This is for you. Your spiritual development is the most important thing you can do in your lifetime. It will have the most beneficial effect on everything else you do. It will also show you who you are. And, say the seers, it will destroy your karma thus leading you closer to the Ultimate Reality.
In this unit we have drawn from other traditions in order to find some healing principles that speak to our separation and soul loss. And we revisited the concepts of discrimination and clarity. The twin ideas of staying in the moment and trusting the flow of our lives are worth some meditation time. They each lead to the other - and to the Divine life.
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Dass, Baba Hari. Ashtanga Yoga primer. Santa Cruz, CA: Hanuman Fellowship, 1977.
Dossey, Larry. Recovering the Soul: A Scientific and Spiritual Search. New York: Bantam, 1989.
Easwaran, Eknath (Tr.). The Upanishads. Petaluma, CA: Nilgiri Press, 1987.
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Fox, Matthew. Original blessing: A primer in Creation Spirituality presented in four paths, twenty-six themes, and two questions. Santa Fe: Bear & Co. 1983.
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Iyer, Raghavan (Ed.) The Gospel According to Thomas. New York: Concord Grove Press, 1983.
Judy, Dwight. Healing the Male Soul: Christianity and the Mythic Journey. New York: Crossroads, 1992.
Nicholson, Shirley (Ed.) Shamanism: An expanded view of reality. Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1987.
Phillips, Rick. Emergence of the divine child: Healing the emotional body. Santa Fe, NM: Bear & Co., 1990. Now republished as Windows to the soul (1997).
Progoff, Ira. At a journal workshop: The basic text and guide for using the Intensive Journal process. New York: Dialogue House Library, 1975.
Trungpa, Chogyam. 1975 Seminary: Hinayana - Mahayana. (Transcript of talks given at the third Vajradhatu Seminary, Snowmass Village, CO: September- November, 1975).
Trungpa, Chogyam. The myth of freedom and the way of meditation. Boulder: Shambhala, 1976.
Walsh, Roger N. The spirit of shamanism. Los Angeles: Tarcher, 1990.
Whitfield, Charles L. Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families. Deerfield Beach, FL: Health Communications, 1989.
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The final Unit X. Spiritual Support deals with how to find others with whom to share the journey and what to look for in a teacher. It also includes some notes on psychotherapy and spiritual practices.
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