Unit VI. Persisting Issues
1. Tail ends
5. Unresolved issues and emotions
6. Working with last ditch issues
Materials needed: Journal, drawing materials
Straight from the horse’s mouth*
Soul without shame
Drawing the light from within*
Exercises and practices:
Tail ends composition
Tracking through Gestalt
Soul without shame
Emotions and pain
Light to the chakras
Sacrificing physical drives
* You may have these books already
The red filaments in this chakra refer to cosmic fire (tejas) which
can be used to burn away all the last vestiges of ego resistance to
transformation. The work of the first three chakras is to examine all
the social and cultural conditioning we have been subjected to and to weed
out all that is no longer useful to us on our spiritual journey. In
chakra four, the discipline was to help you open your heart and prepare to
make a connection with the Beloved. So, if you have faithfully done
all the exercises and practices so far, you will probably be ready for this
Tail ends refers to all the left over debris that needs to be cleaned up.
No program is fool proof, so everyone will have their own secret and self-serving
motivations that may be completely hidden from an outside observer.
However, you know in your heart of hearts what is there and what still needs
to be processed. This unit may or may not touch upon your private
issues, but that does not mean you don’t have to confront them. You
may use the techniques given here to attack your own ego agendas that still
need work. The issues presented here are just some of the most persistence
and widespread ones that people often face. They may even be peculiar
to Americans or westerners as a result of our cultural upbringing especially
the judgmental one. Projection is an elementary ego defense, so will
probably be found everywhere that people have developed individual egos.
The same is true of self-will though that is more likely to be coupled with
individualism and separatism than with more cooperative and collaborative
social groups. Other issues may constellate around negative emotions
that are not adequately controlled or prevented.
I suggest you work with these topics by engaging in your own self-examination
and reflecting in your journal throughout this unit. Please keep an
open mind and be willing to entertain the notion that some of the content
just might apply to you. Expect some unpleasantness. When the
ego is pushed to the wall, it can be pretty nasty in its last ditch attempts
at self-defense. After all, it has held the throne for nearly your
Exercise: Tail ends composition
Have a large sheet of paper, crayons or other kinds of paints, scissors
and paste handy. If you hate drawing and are more comfortable in the
music world, you may do this exercise in the sound dimension. Just stay
with the general idea and produce some tangible symbols that you can organize
and refer back to.
Find a time you can be alone and uninterrupted for a while. Take
a few minutes and center yourself. Breathe into each of your chakras
and release any tensions these ideas may have generated in you on the outbreath.
Make a list of the following concepts and keep it near you during the next
1-5. People you like (list them)
6-10. People you intensely dislike (list them. They don’t have
to be real acquaintances but they do have
to evoke feelings of dislike in you)
11. Your favorite parent or protector when you were growing up
12. Your least favorite relative or associate
13. Your most influential teacher
14. The most trouble you got into growing up
15. What you do when you can’t have your own way
16. What threatens you more than anything else
21. Your core Self
Then get comfortable and let yourself go into a semi-meditative state.
While there, take each item or person on your list and hold it in your mind
until an image appears to associate with it. The first flash you get is
probably the one you want and may have emerged when you first made your
list. If so, that’s OK. Use that one. It should
not be a real person, a symbol will work better. Make a note of what
it is, then continue until you have a list of all of the images.
Now draw a picture or make or find some representation of each image and
arrange them on the large piece of paper or in some other appropriate way
until you feel satisfied. Then secure them in place so you can apprehend
the entire composition as a whole.
If you have had some insights as you did this, make notes in your journal.
You might also want to reflect on each symbol individually to see what it
means as a multilevel representation. You can also think about the
quadrants of your composition as in the previous unit. Then keep this
creation in a place where you can refer to it as we go along.
There are many ways to look at ego. From the psychological point
of view, ego is that part of ourselves that is responsible for survival
and self-image or identity construction and protection. It is the agent
that is responsible for self-control. It also tries to control its
environment and other people to the greatest extent possible in order to
get our needs met. It is conditioned and reinforced continually by
the culture we live in. It is an essential faculty to interface with
the world, and it keeps our separate identity intact. If it does not,
we are psychotic, by definition.
Through the Buddhist lens, ego is that part of ourselves that creates what
we perceive as reality. In cahoots with the lower mind, ego constantly
struggles to maintain the illusion that we really exist and that there is
a concrete, real world out there. Its tendencies are passion (holding
on to good things), aggression (destruction of bad things) and ignorance
(ignoring the way things really are). It becomes threatened by brief
insights into impermanence, emptiness, groundlessness and its own lack of
real existence. In those cases, it will then rigidify and hold on more
tightly than ever. Lack of a reference point throws ego into a panic.
So the mind runs on continuously to provide a reflective surface or mirror
Yogis see ego as that part of self that constructed and maintains the veils
of maya or illusion that protect us from the knowledge of who we really
are. It is ruled by desire and imagination and dominated by self-will
or the wish to have one’s own way. It maintains separation from one’s
Higher Self and the divine One.
You can see that ego plays a central role in our lives no matter which
philosophy we use to explain how life works. And when ego is thwarted
it immediately erects defense mechanisms. These have been explained
in other guidebooks, so I will not repeat them now. However, we are
going to see how some of them unfold in specific situations.
Projection is an action of the ego, a defense mechanism.
It is the first one to emerge during the course of development, so is the
most primitive and probably the most prevalent in human nature. When
there is something in oneself that the ego cannot cope with, it is repressed
below the level of conscious awareness. It then becomes a shadow which
has its own energy that presses for expression. So the ego has to use
its energy to keep it out of sight. Now this shadow may not necessarily
have a negative valence. It could be something really nice about oneself,
but it is repressed because it does not fit the self-image that has been
constructed over time.
Mary Jane is an attractive young woman who has an inferiority complex.
She feels ugly and inept because she received little or no feedback
as a child that she was beautiful. In addition, she is measuring her
worth against the media ads and comes up short every time. Because
her self-image is so negative, other people avoid interacting with her which
further reinforces her idea that she is unalluring. She easily forms
“crushes” on the more popular girls in her group of friends and dreams of
movie stars and other celebrities that she perceives as beautiful.
This is an example of projection of a positive quality.
Negative projections are more common probably because we are made to repress
more negative emotions and attributes in order to get along with others.
Sometimes this process is called “mirroring” because it is said that we
cannot really know ourselves unless our image is reflected back from someone
else. And in childhood that is probably the case. It may be how
we learn to define ourselves in the first place. It is also how we learn
to understand others, by seeing ourselves in them. The hitch comes
when the projections are not accurate representations of the way another person
really is especially if we act on our false perceptions. To make this
worse, ego has a way of keeping us from seeing how we do this. So almost
everyone will deny that they ever project anything onto someone else.
Who? Not me! I wouldn’t do any such thing. Check this out
This is one way we could visualize projection. The figure
on the left is projecting his attitude onto the figure at the right.
It is then reflected back to the figure on the left who then responds emotionally.
1. The next time you are privy to a gossipy conversation, assume
that the person who is talking about someone else is really telling you
all about themselves. This is literally true. No one is able
to experience another’s life “from the inside.” Empathy is the best
we can do and that is fairly rare since most of us are tuned in primarily
to our own little self. A focus on self-interest is habit, conditioned
learning; and, as such, can be corrected but not without a great deal of
effort and persistence. So when Luanne goes on and on about a mutual
acquaintance or maybe just someone in town who is presumably having an affair
with a married man, you can assume that is something she would like to have
an opportunity to do herself. She may or may not actually be doing
it, in fact probably is not. But that is the point. Because
the wish is repressed in her and has become a shadow which is denied, she
releases the energy by projecting it onto someone else. Then she can
punish it if it goes against her conscience by ruining the other person’s
reputation. And she comes out of it squeaky clean. If you look
with educated eyes, you can see this everywhere. It is supremely terrifying
to see it happening on the international level. I don’t need to cite
2. Now look at your creation and at the images you designed for items
1-10 and 13. These are likely to be examples of projection.
To go more deeply into them, draw a line down the center of the page upon
which you have listed them. On the other side, write down how
this particular characteristic manifests in you. This will help you
reclaim some of your shadows. Your reward will be an increase in the
amount of energy available to you since the ego no longer needs to use it
for repression. Note your findings in your journal.
We can now see how the divine One might have created us using the same
mechanism of projection. Recall that the Sufis say, “I was an hidden
treasure and I wished to be known, so I created the world.” And that
the Samkhya Yogis say that the Universal Reality divided itself into consciousness
and matter, then reflected consciousness off of matter to form the Universal
Mind. Jill Purce (1974) said that we are a projection from the One and we
orbit around the axis that projection forms on our way back Home (cf figure2.htm).
Involution is the projection of the One into human form or any form for
that matter. The original separation is portrayed in the Garden of
Eden story in the Bible. You will note that this is the beginning of
the dualities that are basic to form. In order to have form,
there must be a separation from the void. So it appears that all of
physical creation, at least, has separation and duality inherent in it.
This provides a setup that is perfect for projection. Maybe you are
beginning to get a feel for the mind of God.
Dreams may be another form of projection. In this case, issues of
the soul might be projected onto the mind and reflected into the dreamer’s
awareness as images and activities that convey a message of some sort from
the instigator. If we become aware of the alienation and separation
of the soul from the ego and mind, the role of dreams takes on a critical
function in recovering the soul losses that have been inflicted during our
lifetimes. It is the same process as reclaiming the shadow. We
interpret our dream images in order to recover the meaning of our soul’s or
Higher Self’s messages. For, it seems, the Higher Self can also use
this method to communicate with us.
It is becoming increasingly well documented that out of the body experiences
(OOBEs) are real. They may be caused by some trauma (near death experiences
or NDEs), and in these cases the reports of what happens are remarkably
similar. But it is also possible to learn how to leave one’s body
and travel in a disembodied state throughout the world if not the cosmos.
We could think of lucid dreams as a launching pad for these travels.
So it is clear that there is a part of us that is not physical and that has
more flexibility and fluidity than the body. It appears that it is
also immortal and not subject to death in a physical sense. I am not
recommending that you try to leave your body as there are many dangers in
doing so. But I did want to note that here is yet another form of projection.
Exercise: Tracking through gestalt
Read chapter 7 in Straight from the horse’s mouth and do the two
exercises she offers. If you have an animal, a good time to do the first
exercise might be when you are away and have a sitter coming in if you don’t
like Kincade's suggestions. The second exercise has an induction that you
might want to tape for yourself before beginning, so you can really relax
Embodiment of the Beloved
Sufis say that the Beloved lives in us and wishes to become manifest through
us. So we have an opportunity to be the mirror that reflects the divine
One out into the world. However, the mirror must be clean in order
to do this job properly. We work on clearing up our debris, so we can
reflect the Beloved in the most accurate manner possible. Then we coax It to
be with us whenever It wishes. Ego surrender means to give our lives
to the Beloved.
“Blaming don’t fix things, it just makes
– Sully in “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman” (Hallmark Channel)
“Hurry up, Barbara Ann, we’re ready to go.”
“I’m not finished putting on my makeup.”
“Pretty is as pretty does. Make it snappy. That chile is slow
This is, on the surface, a pretty innocuous exchange, one that is fairly
typical of a family with adolescents. However, inherent in it are
two judgments. Can you spot them? The first is that the “chile”
is not pretty, thus must rely on her behavior to win points with others.
The second is that she is slow and that is bad.
Judgments always have a valence of good vs bad, desirable vs undesirable.
In all cases, the one doing the judging is assuming a position of superiority.
This, naturally, requires separation so is a source of much of our loneliness
Since judging goes back to the beginnings of human history, we could see
it in both religion and politics as a means of control over the population
by its leaders and/or priests. Our own particular experience
of it, in western societies at least, seems to have originated with
the Old Testament of the Bible. There we find a merciless God who is
continually judging His “children.” Later on He becomes more merciful,
but the judging continues throughout the New Testament even after Jesus came
to teach us that God is love. Attendance at any church or synagogue
will soon confirm this impression. The thing that confuses me is that,
to my mind at least, love and criticism are incompatible. Unconditional
love which is said to be a characteristic of God should be just that - no
conditions or mandates for improvement.
Yet we see in many if not most of our families the use of withdrawal of
love being used as a disciplinary technique. In fairness, I have to
say that young parents now seem to be a good bit more educated in the need
for acceptance in child rearing. It is hard, though, to know how to
handle things like temper tantrums if one has not had a good model in the
family of birth. For example, harsh child rearing practices abounded
in Puritan society and set the tone for generations of parents to follow.
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne shows us how this was expressed
in the early days of New England. We are not out of the woods yet.
The worst outcome of these tendencies is alienation of children from their
souls. Called “soul loss,” in fact, we gradually lose touch with parts
of ourselves that were judged to be unacceptable to whomever was our caretaker
in childhood. Teachers joined the corps of adults united in this campaign
to make children good if not perfect. Consequently, most of us carry
around a load of guilt, much of which is repressed as shadow, because the
standards were so high that virtually no one could possibly make the grade.
Many adolescents challenge the mores that underlie and support judging,
but eventually even they succumb to the need to conform. And by the
time young adulthood arrives, the habits are so firmly established that
the new generation has begun to carry on the tradition of judging others
in their own parenting of children. It is obvious that projection
supports judging. It is a way of dealing with the ensuing guilt that
is, itself, two-pronged. One feels guilty for not being perfect, beautiful,
handsome, wealthy, etc. And one feels guilty for being judgmental.
1. Read chapters 2-4 and 6 in Healing Communication.
2. Refer to your tails ends composition. Items 6-10 and 11-14
may remind you of experiences of being judged whether favorably or unfavorably.
Note the overlap with projection. Do you see both positive and negative
judgments operating in these people or situations?
The inner critic
The worst part of this scenario is that, after a certain number of
years probably at about age five, we internalize the judgments and judging
process that have been aimed at us, so they become self-perpetuating.
In other words, we learn to judge ourselves exactly as we were judged as
children. From that time onward, we do not need our parents or teachers
to tell us when we are “bad.” Our inner judge keeps our imperfection
before us at all times. It should be obvious that this is deadly for
the soul. Byron Brown (1999), in Soul without shame speaks from extensive
experience disidentifying with and detaching from the inner judge.
This book could change your life. It is written by a long time follower
of A. H. Almaas whom we have met before. Brown explains, in detail,
how the whole process gets established, then gives us concrete practices
we can do to unravel the knots it has caused. The result is a true
feeling of liberation from an inner tyrant.
One of these obstacles to inner work and spiritual
realization is the painful and difficult one of
the inner critic, the coercive agency within us that criticizes,
judges, compares, condemns, blames, and attacks us and others
constantly. – Byron Brown (1999, p. ix)
In case you might feel that people would run amok if there were no inner
judge overseeing their behavior, I hasten to assure you that that is not
the case. What it does do is liberate your compassion and ability to
love others. When given the choice, most of us would elect to behave
in a manner that is light-filled and harmonious. We choose to “behave
ourselves” because we want to make others happy and because it greases the
wheels of society. Most young children also want to please those they
love, so isn’t it a shame we don’t know how to teach them how to optimize
that potential? The troubles arise concurrently with the emergence
of ego. So it is clear to me that we need to find ways of teaching
ego how to be gentle and kind at the same time it is learning how to manage
its life effectively. Would you know how to do this?
Practice: Soul without shame
I call this a practice because it is important that you approach it that
way. May I suggest that you set aside a time every day to read and
meditate on a section of Soul without shame. If a chapter
is too long and you are tired, then do just a single section of it but make
a commitment to see it through. Take in each new idea and let it sink
into your consciousness. Brown learned these processes from a
legitimate spiritual teacher, so it is safe to internalize them. I
have found them extremely valuable in freeing myself from lifelong habits
of punishing myself and also from allowing others to browbeat me. Please
continue with this practice until you finish the book. You will get
the most benefit from it if you do all the exercises and practices Brown
suggests. You also may find it useful to outline the chapters either during
or after your study of it. This will help you to assimilate and integrate
the new learning. Furthermore, you will become reunited with your soul
and experience a new sense of presence and happiness. It is like being
let out of prison. Fits with judging, yes?
How judging manifests
“I didn’t hear you,” the person in front of me at choir practice turned
around and confronted me. Her face was contorted with irritation.
“You don’t want to hear me until I learn the music, “ I replied feeling
annoyed that I felt like a child being reprimanded.
This is criticism with which we are all familiar. But the
simple exchange mentioned above has all the characteristics of judging.
For whatever reasons, the person confronting me felt she had the authority
to tell me what I was doing wrong. Perhaps it was a case of projection.
Maybe she was having trouble with the music and, rather than admit it to
herself, she released the negative energy by turning on me. But this
is only half of the story. I reacted with guilt, a guilt generated
by my own inner critic who was resonating with the external one. I
am still learning to sing and am acutely aware of my potential for singing
off key when learning a new piece of music. Furthermore, being a “good
girl” would preclude any angry response from me as a result of being attacked
irrationally. You can see the seriousness of this issue when
you consider that it is echoed eternally in our culture.
Also part of the vignette described above is the implication of a “should.”
I should have projected my voice so she could hear it presumably on pitch,
with correct tempo and volume, and with full tones. We all know
what the “shoulds” are: we should be clean and not smell, we should use
a napkin at meals, we should be respectful of our elders, we should look
both ways before entering traffic, we should not talk back to our parents,
we should be seen but not heard, we should not hit bullies on the playground,
we should not take dope, we should not hurt others’ feelings, we should not
cheat on our income tax, etc. ad nauseum. All of this litany has been
collected and faithfully preserved by the inner judge who reminds us with
a prick of guilt whenever we are tempted to transgress.
Have you ever run a red light? How did you feel? Did you check
out the rear vision mirror? How to do you respond to the sight of
a police car in your rear vision mirror? Do you worry that your income
tax return might be audited? Do you resent all the state’s rules about
how to declare your assets or how to proceed in traffic? Do you resent
your boss’s decisions? Does your mother still tell you what to do?
Your father? These are all authority issues. The biggest
hurdle I had to overcome at the ashram was projecting all my authority issues
onto the guru and then getting angry at her. It was indescribably
painful and liberating as I gradually realized what I was doing and
took steps to reclaim that shadow. The child in us resents constantly
being told what to do and how to do it, being compared to seemingly impossible
standards of behavior. So it should come as no surprise that a similar
reaction to the inner judge would occur because the child is still alive
in us. The external trigger is only a trigger for the inner policeman.
. . or policewoman. Ask yourself whose voice it is that is giving
you these orders. Someone on your list perhaps?
There is the other side to this. How does the inner judge manifest
in everyday life in terms of my behavior? One of the things I was
often asked to consider about myself at the ashram was my self-importance
and pompousness. Now you have to know that those who were
pointing out these characteristics in me have gone the distance in working
with their own projections, so I had to take their feedback
seriously. Furthermore, they have gone beyond the need for my approval,
so they could tell me the truth about myself. They also loved me unconditionally,
something I’d never experienced before and did not at first recognize, of
course, since it did not take the usual forms of conditioned love with which
I was familiar. They cared enough about me to gently ask me to look
at myself objectively. And I didn’t like what I saw. I was going
about telling everyone all the things I knew about modern psychology usually
without being asked for the information. It did make me feel important,
but I couldn’t understand, at first, why people simply turned and walked
away from me when I did that. Swami Radha would sit at the table with
a group of us and talk about self-importance, pompousness and other ego aberrations
without targeting anyone in particular. But looking around the table
I could see that each person felt as if the little talk were directed specifically
at him or her. We all took it to heart. These types of ego aberrations
are the inner judge showing itself and looking for attention and praise.
A related characteristic is pride. If I feel unworthy in my
imperfections, the ego defends those perceptions from the world with pride.
I know so much, I resent anyone trying to teach me. On one occasion,
also at the ashram and in a class, I was being helped to process something
I had drawn. The feedback I was being given seemed to me to be unrelated
to what I was trying to tell them. Finally I broke into tears saying,
“You aren’t listening to me.”
“We are only trying to set you free,” was the response. I couldn’t
understand that as I was not in a place of humility. I assumed I knew
what was going on inside me, and that left no space for new insights.
Swami Radha once told me my mind was so full, she couldn’t get anything
else in. This was all pride. I really thought I knew a lot especially
about psychology when all I really had was an assortment of information.
As time passed and I did my practices, the pride ebbed a bit, but it is
still a favored defense when I feel attacked. “Pride goeth before
a fall,” the saying goes. And I fell as you will see later on.
On a larger scale, pride, arrogance and self-importance can show up as
autocracy and/or demagoguery, a phenomenon one doesn’t have to look far
to discover in worldwide politics especially at home. Knowing what
we now know about projection, it can be terrifying to watch the evening news.
Or am I just sensitive to behaviors that have been a problem for me?
That is a question we all should ask when we find ourselves being critical
Technically karma is cause and effect. Everything we do in life has
consequences of one sort or another. There is a chain, or perhaps
a network, of interactions. Imagine, if you will, a large net with
a person at each knot of it. Pull on one corner of it, and everything
moves. That would represent life as physicists and spiritual teachers
can see it. Therefore, what we have done in the past comes back to
us. I am seeing this happen more and more quickly as I age, to the
point of an almost instantaneous return or reaction. So it is worth
keeping in mind that we are creating the future for ourselves.
Look at food. It takes seven years to turn over all the cells in
your body. So it can take that long for a new regime of diet to take
effect, and this is over, above and beyond creating new habits of eating.
If you would like to recreate your body, you must study nutrition, herbology
and various forms of supplementation because the food in our markets is
almost not fit to eat. It is either full of sugar or salt, or it has
been adulterated or irradiated in some way so it will keep for long periods
of time on the shelf. Take a leisurely stroll down a middle aisle in
your favorite supermarket and read the labels on the boxes and cans.
Find out what is done to meat and dairy products before they reach the shelves
in the name of preservation. How do you think vegetables are preserved
well enough to reach the market? But I wander. The karma
in this is cancer, heart disease and strokes for starters. Food in
the middle aisles of any grocery store is dead. It hasn’t been alive
for ages. Information about what goes into pet food would curl your
hair as would the knowledge of what goes into lunch meats, hot dogs, and
other forms of otherwise unusable meats. An animal’s fear in the slaughterhouse
results in abnormal levels of adrenalin in its tissues. This is passed
on to us, and we wonder why we have problems with aggression.
Judgmentalness is also subject to karma. It has been incorporated
into the fabric of our social mores for so long we no longer perceive it as
abnormal. It is taken as a fact of life. We look to a judge to
reconcile all our disputes rather than trying to mediate them ourselves or,
heaven forbid, getting into simple forgiveness. Aggression is both caused
and rewarded by judging. It is caused by the resentful inner child
who feels judged or otherwise abused by its elders. And it is rewarded
by a political system that tolerates manipulation of the laws by big, self-serving
moneyed interests. If this is not so, why doesn’t the government go
and retrieve all the money that has been stolen from investors and banks?
The problems are so big and so extensive that an individual feels helpless
and may repress perception of the entire issue as a defense against his/her
ineffectiveness. But it is all karma and, as such, will have to be
At the time of this writing, there is grave danger that our habits of judgmentalness
are going to start a third world war. America is taking the position
of judge, jury and executioner of another nation. And we are blind
to the karmic potential in that. It might be well to keep in mind that
karma affects groups as well as individuals.
Exercise: Drawing Illusions
Read chapter 4 and do the exercises in Drawing the light from within.
As you do this, think about the relationship between karma and illusion
in the sense of maya. Also reflect on the negative karma we are creating
in the world as the shadow of free will. How would we get a perspective
on that? Let your artistic work here be symbolic of your or the world’s
karmic illusions. If you keep that thought in the back of your mind,
it will come through in your work. You may choose your objects
accordingly. Bones might, indeed, be appropriate.
I want to move. But I don’t want to move into just any house in any
place that I might be able to afford. I want to build a house that
will fit me exactly. And it should be near a spiritual center, so I
can have access to the teachings. And it should be on a slope, so I
can put a garage underneath. I want it to have enough room for all
my books and a yard that is safe for my cat. I would like it to be
in a forest and preferably near a little creek. I want it to be near
to where I live now, so I don’t have to find new doctors, stores and other
resources I may need. I want it to come within my budget with some
money left over for vacations. And I want it now, or yesterday.
Did you notice anything interesting about the verbs in the paragraph above?
Take another look.
Every sentence expressed a desire, a want. Furthermore, there is
a feeling of strong motivation behind the words. I am prepared to
struggle to get what I want. There is nothing unusual about this.
In fact, many would admire my persistence in trying to get what I want.
But, from the standpoint of spiritual advancement, it is pure ego or self-will.
I want what I want when I want it. It is pretty obvious that it doesn’t
jive with surrender. And the fact is I am not going to get what I
want. Every move I have made to actualize this dream has been systematically
thwarted. It is as if the higher power is saying, “No, I am what you
want. Not this, not this. . . neti. . . neti. . . neti” as the Yogis
What stands between us and unity consciousness? Ego. Fear of
loss of identity. We strain toward transcendence while, at the same
time, running away from unity for dear life. Ego fears its own death.
And well it might, for there is a powerful loss of control inherent in transformation.
And there is a huge fear of chaos mean-ing, in this case, not being able
to understand or withstand the Dynamic Ground.
Getting my own way reinforces the idea that I am still in control of my
life when, in fact, I never was. At least my ego wasn’t. We might
make a case for the idea that the soul or Higher Self is running the show,
but you can feel your ego twinge at that idea. It is not about to
surrender to the soul or anyone else without a fight. At this point
in the journey, ego is strengthening control. And, because it is a
fight to the death and the ego faces annihilation, it presents the biggest
We cannot do it alone depending upon the ego to work things out for us
as we have solved problems in the past. We are going to need the support
of Spirit or the Beloved and of any angels we may be able to muster.
A spiritual community can be of enormous help because everyone is tuned
in to the same goal and is willing to give a helping hand. This is
why ashrams, monasteries and convents were established. Usually they
are headed by a spiritual teacher who has already transited the challenges
with which most of the followers are faced, and s/he knows how to deal with
them. Such communities also help keep folks tuned in and doing their
We have to let go and trust, deeply trust Spirit with our very lives and
identities. Can you do that?
Unresolved issues and emotions
The presence or lack of emotional upset can be a barometer for perception
of work that still needs to be done. Emotions are the special providence
of ego. When it doesn’t get its way, feels threatened or frustrated,
it stirs up emotion. It is as if it is mobilizing more energy to deal
with the problem. Unfortunately, emotional upset does not usually
solve problems. It does take its toll on our bodies and minds.
Chronic fear and lack of trust tend to settle in the kidneys and lower back.
Anger strikes the liver, envy and hate the gall bladder. Grief and
sadness attack the lungs. Helplessness and hopelessness tend to generate
cancer, and migraine headaches are associated with rage. These are
a few of the psychosomatic disorders that can be remedied by dealing directly
with the ego-mind. If we can change our thinking about an issue, the
emotion will dissipate and the body recover. There are numerous examples
of this in the field of alternative medicine.
Reflection: Emotions and pain
1. Get out your journal the next time you have a minute and think
about your emotions. Be sure to make a distinction between an emotion
and a feeling. Remember feelings are transmuted emotions and come from
the heart. Emotions come from the gut or third chakra which is ego’s
domain. If you are in doubt, see where the energy of the emotion seems
to be located in your body. Identify one emotion that you seem prone
to and write a paragraph about it. How do you experience it?
What triggers it? When is it most likely to manifest? Is it directed
toward a specific person? If so, is there a projection operating there?
A judgment? Self-will? Look to find what aspect of ego is upset.
Next, check to see what part of your body, if any, is associated with the
emotion. Emotions usually trigger the fight or flight responses which
are due to the production of adrenalin in the body. So see where the
tensions are or any pain. What is your breath doing? Are you
taking full, yogic breaths from the belly or are you breathing shallowly
in your upper chest only? If you have pain, ask what that part of the
body does for you. Pain is a message that something is not right.
What is not right in your back? shoulder? neck? head? etc. What message
is trying to come through in the pain?
Next, lie down on the floor, cover yourself and lay an eyerest or towel
over your eyes. Breathe deeply and relax each part of your body individually
beginning with your feet and moving upward until all of you is relaxed.
Now consult the pain. Is it better? If not, where are the boundaries
of it? Take a mental walk into that territory and allow yourself to
fully experience the pain, all of it. Ask it what it wants.
Take enough time for a response. . . listen as if you were comforting a
deeply troubled friend. Encourage it to fully express itself.
Then, using your breath to guide the energies, breathe into the pain and
allow its boundaries to relax and expand. Let your focus relax into
a gentle permissiveness. Let go of control. Let it be. . . let
the pain or tension be. . . Relax. . . allow yourself to doze a bit.
If the source of the pain or tension arises, as it might, allow it to be
there without fighting it. Make a mental note to remember it, but continue
to relax. Let it go by. If relief comes, try not to seize it
but gently enjoy it, sink more deeply into it. Surrender to the moment.
Now is the time of your life. Be with it. Invite your guides
or the Beloved to join you and to help if you feel you need it. When
ready, come back slowly with consideration for your body and gratitude in
2. Consult your tail ends list again. Numbers 15-16 and 17-20
may have been surfacing here. How does self-will ricochet in your
body? Note how your emotions manifest in your body and in your mind.
Working with last ditch issues
There are all kinds of resources to assist this last cleansing. Use
as many as you wish of the ones suggested here, and find others in your
neighborhood, of course. Everything is grist for the mill in this
final stage of the war. You might want to reread sections of the Bhagavad
Gita for reassurance. That scripture is an account of just what we
are going through at this stage of the journey. You will remember Arjuna
doesn’t want to fight because the “enemy” is all his family and friends (think
personality aspects and ego agendas). But Krishna says they are already
dead meaning that they aren’t really real but only phantoms of the
imagination. They are creations of the mind when it tried to cope with
life’s challenges in our youths and childhoods. We don’t need them
any more. We can surrender our defenses as we find more support in
Spirit. Some things you can do follow.
Bodywork such as massage, healing touch, Reiki, and any of the numerous
body contact disciplines come under this heading. The reason they are
helpful is that much of the early trauma of socialization occurs before the
ego or mind are mature enough to take on the burden of defense. So the
trauma is stored in body tissues and cells. Bodywork can help bring
these disturbances to consciousness where they can be acknowledged and dealt
with. The interesting thing about repression is that, when the content
is acknowledged, the energetic and emotional load is released and becomes
available to the psyche for the present life in a more healthful form.
You might want to look at a book called Getting in touch: The guide to
new body-centered therapies by Christine Caldwell (1997). It describes
the major schools of bodywork.
Meditation gives the mind a rest and the body follows. Energy follows
thought, so when the mind is quiet, the ego can rest and the body is relieved
of its tensions. If you have been practicing meditation from the beginning,
you know by now what its manifold benefits are. Most of the trash
from the past will have presented itself and been released. Now, like
a child, the ego can be admonished to take a nap. Then the core Self
If guidance has come through for you, you may consult It for ideas about
how to deal with your last ditch issues. Remember that your guide(s)
can only manifest in a quiet mind, so use meditation as a preparation for
consultation. If they are not there for you, for whatever reason,
behave as if they were. During the last ditch stand one of the things
that may happen is loss of contact with the divine One or with Spirit.
This is an ego defense and does not mean that you have been deserted.
Spirit is still there and still loves you. You are standing in your
own shadow like the prisoners in Plato’s cave with your back to the light.
You must get out of your own way, turn around, and allow It to come back
into your heart. There will be more on this later on.
The Divine Light Invocation (unit4-8.htm) can be used for support and protection
as well as an ally against ego’s agendas. It may be found in a little
booklet called The Divine Light invocation by Swami Sivananda Radha (1987)
or look for a later edition). Swami Radha also made a tape of Guided
meditation (on the Light) as well as many others that might be of help to
you. They can be secured from Timeless Books (www.timeless.org).
There are other Light practices scattered throughout the spiritual literature
as well as on the web. See www.theuniversel.net for another source.
Pir Vilayat’s work with Light is very inspiring and is continued by his
son at The Abode of the Message.
Practice: Light to the chakras
Find a quiet time and sit either on a cushion or in a chair so that your
back can be erect with the chakras all lined up in a straight vertical line.
If you need to, raise the back of your cushion or chair a little to tip
your pelvis a bit forward. This will take the stress off your back
muscles because you can balance in that position. Breathe quietly
for a while and watch your breath. Then begin the microcosmic orbit
but with the addition of Light as follows.
Breathe into the third chakra and hold your breath while you repeat a short
mantra eight times. As you breathe in visualize the Light pouring
into the chakra and settling there as you say the mantra. Next breathe
through the third and into the first chakra in the same manner. Then
through the third, first and into the second chakra. Then extend it
into the third chakra. However, this time in the third chakra, exhale
and hold it while tucking your chin into the collar bone. This pushes
the Light up the sushumna into the heart center. Next breathe in through
the third, first, second, third and into the fourth chakra saying the mantra
and holding the breath in the fourth chakra. From there, allow the
sequence to go up the back of the head into the seventh chakra. Next
go to the sixth chakra and, finally to the fifth chakra. Then continue
the even breathing in a circle around the body following the chakra sequence
above. Feel that you are drawing light up through all the chakras and
letting it drift downward from the seventh chakra as amrita (nectar of the
gods) into the hara where it can be stored for future use. Complete
your practice with an expression of gratitude for the teachings.
Other spiritual practices
These are too numerous to catalog. You may use any practice that
works for you, and, by this time, you will probably know what they are.
You may even want to make up your own practice based upon your experience
so far. After years of doing spiritual practices, the commonalties
in them begin to emerge, so you don’t need to depend so much on outside direction
but can create your own as the situation requires.
Refinement of awareness in daily life
Keep in mind that we are trying to refine the senses that inform the mind,
so that it may be tuned in to the Light. You will become more and
more aware of the coarseness in everyday life and the ignorance of other
people. And I mean ignorance in the sense of lack of awareness of
higher levels of consciousness. Try not to let this disturb you, and
certainly don’t give your ego any slack to latch on to an image of yourself
as more advanced spiritually. The mark of a master is true humility
and everydayness in daily life plus a generous dollop of joy. You
probably aren’t there yet. However, all of us can cultivate courtesy,
consideration for others, gentleness, kindness, compassion, sensitivity,
active listening, etc. Whenever you slide back, instead of berating
yourself, remind yourself of the refined aspect of whatever emotion is in
question. All emotions can be transmuted into refined awarenesses.
“Cosmic Fire is a great Cosmic Light existing
beyond all names, shapes and
forms, and at one point even the concept of the Higher Self,
if it has any trace
of the personal form, has to be let go.” –Swami Radha
(1978, p. 233)
This is a global view of the cosmic energy that pervades the universe.
But there is a cosmic fire within us all. We call it Kundalini.
It is the combination of static and dynamic energy forces that, in their
dualities, create everything. Woodroffe (1973, pp. 295-315) describes
this in detail. Among other things, he likens it to the construction
of the atom which has a static nucleus surrounded by orbiting, dynamic electrons.
For our purposes here, it will suffice to see it as the fire that purifies.
Kundalini, when it rises, is often experienced as heat in the body.
When the purification work is done properly beforehand, the ascent is without
pain and takes the form of ecstasy. It may feel like being flooded
with Light or being immersed in Love.
Another way of conceptualizing the Cosmic Fire is as sacrifice. And
this is probably the interpretation most useful for our needs at this chakra
level. We can sacrifice our ego attachments and agendas to the higher
power. This serves to keep our mind on the purification process and
trains ego to surrender. Symbolically, fire destroys the fuel.
So a sacrificial service or rite implies the destruction of obstacles that
still stand in the way of enlightenment.
There is a story about Swami Sivananda and a young man who lived in the
ashram in India. The young man apparently backslid from the celibacy
requirement and was discovered en flagrante with a woman who also lived there.
His penance was to sacrifice his lust to Divine Mother through chanting
to Her. This works. I have tried it myself.
Practice: Sacrificing physical drives
This may be used either with lust or with fear, anger, hatred, envy or
Sit as for meditation. Have a small altar in front of you upon which
you have placed articles of significance to you. Light a candle and
begin to concentrate on it. Alternatively, you may begin to chant.
Or find some other focus to hold your mind steady. Next, find the
place in your body where the strong emotion is being held and/or is agitating
and begin to breathe into it. Visualize the emotion or drive as something
relatively solid with boundaries or edges in that same part of your body.
Then gradually begin to move it upward through the chakra system until it
reaches your heart center. Use the breath as a guide and propeller.
Keep working with the energy until it transforms into something else.
This is another form of the refinement process, and it helps us to harness
the life energies so they can be put into service of the Higher Self.
Brown, B. (1999). Soul without shame: A guide to liberating
yourself from the judge within. Boston: Shambhala.
Caldwell, C. (1997). Getting in touch: The guide to new
body-centered therapies. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.
Cornell, J. (1990). Drawing the light from within: Keys
to awaken your creative power. New York: Prentice-Hall.
Kinkade, A. (2001). Straight from the horse’s mouth: How
to talk to animals and get answers. New York: Crown Publishers.
Phillips, R. (1996). Healing communication: A psychospiritual
approach. Glorieta, NM: Deva Publishing.
Purce, J. (1974). The mystic spiral: Journey of the soul. New York: Thames and Hudson.
Radha, S. (1978). Kundalini: Yoga for the west.
Spokane, WA: Timeless Books.
Radha, S. (1987). The Divine Light invocation.
Porthill, ID: Timeless Books.
Woodroffe, Sir J. (1973). The serpent power: Being the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana
and Paduka-Pancaka. Madras: Ganesh & Co.
In this unit, we have been working on problems
that result from the ego’s last ditch stand for control. In Unit VII. Spiritual Will/Intention we
will examine challenges that arise around surrender, choice-making, free
will and power.
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