All things considered, everyone has their own path and purpose, and regardless of what happens, it’s all ultimately a process of unfoldment in the totality of what is. Everyone has their own particular inherent propensity for personal development, and the circumstances we are met with provide a dynamic, multifaceted interplay helping to shape our opportunities for lessons and co-creation. We help create life as life helps create us.
For some, life is lived simply, rooted in their immediate pleasures without much conscious struggle or concern for larger issues. Others embody a certain propensity for a more intense, accelerated growth process, with concerns, interests, and aspirations on many far-reaching levels. This section applies to all types, and everything in between, however it will most likely be more embraced by the latter type of person since it involves a certain degree of what is known as “conscious struggle“.
However, it’s not so much a struggle to “DO” or “BE” some kind of perfect, superhuman ideal, but simply be as mindful, present, and conscious as possible, utilizing various techniques to see ourselves more clearly and provide ourselves the opportunities to be more in alignment with the actualization of our fullest potential.
Due to the necessary intensity, seeming “messiness”, and required honesty of this process, it’s often avoided since most people tend to prefer comfortable, easy-going fantasies instead of challenging, more worldly realities.
“Half the harm that is done in this world
is due to people who want to feel important.
They don’t mean to do harm.
But the harm does not interest them.
Or they do not see it, or they justify it.
Because they are absorbed in the endless struggle
to think well of themselves.”
~ T. S. Eliot
When rubber hits the road, the most overlooked, underemphasized, yet most important aspect of creating a better world is the topic of Self-Work. It seems common sense to say that if we want our society to change, we must change, yet a minority of people sincerely apply this throughout their lives (however, thanks to the spread of information online, a rapidly increasing number of people are beginning to wake up faster than ever before! Woo!). As the challenges of our world become more intricate and complex, so too must we become more multifaceted, well-educated, and refined, within and without, in order to overcome these obstacles. Through the proper cultivation of our personal lives, we better ourselves and our relationships with others by enhancing the quality of our being in every thought, word, and deed.
“To bring about a society that is not repetitive, not static, not disintegrating, a society that is constantly alive, it is imperative that there should be a revolution in the psychological structure of the individual, for without inward, psychological revolution, mere transformation of the outer has little significance … Outward action, when accomplished, is over, is static; if the relationship between individuals, which is society, is not the outcome of inward revolution, then the social structure, being static, absorbs the individual and therefore makes him equally static, repetitive… It is a fact that society is always crystallizing and absorbing the individual and that constant, creative revolution can only be in the individual, not in the outer. That is, creative revolution can take place only in individual relationship, which is society.”
~ Jiddu Krishnamurti
Up until now, we’ve seen how programmed society has been to believe falsehoods in our society. We’ve seen the gravity of this unhealthy programming which limits us. Once we see just how deeply we have been and can be conditioned to believe lies about our reality and ourselves, it’s just one more step before we realize- despite how well we may think of ourselves- how we STILL ARE conditioned and identified by certain distorted ideas of the world and of ourselves.
“Self-observation brings man to the realization of the necessity of self-change. And in observing himself a man notices that self-observation itself brings about certain changes in his inner processes. He begins to understand that self-observation is an instrument of self-change, a means of awakening.”
Therefore, our fundamental priority must be to de-program ourselves by engaging in constant, sustained self-work. Without constant self-work and education, we not only limit our access to clear, creative, objective reality, both within and without, but we also our effectiveness in reaching and relating to others which then allows us to connect and create a better world. Since everything is inherently connected, we all share an incumbent moral responsibility to help others in danger and who are sincerely working to better themselves. However, helping people who don’t care to improve simply enables destructive behavior… (any fellow recovering “White Knight” sydrome-ers here? Hands up. It’s okay. This is a safe space… and we have free coffee…), and thereby we become culpable to the consequences of their continued harm. As with all things, discernment is required, since some people just require a different approach. Ultimately, though, without mutual care, we cannot grow. We must learn to live together as brothers and sisters or perish together as fools.
“The nature of our immortal lives is in the consequences of our words and deeds that go on apportioning themselves throughout all time. Our lives are not our own; from womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future, and by each crime and every kindness we birth our future.”
~ Cloud Atlas
For too long human development has been polarized and paralyzed by ignorance, fear, hatred, and violence. It has stumbled in the darkness of ignorance without a sufficient spectrum of knowledge to guide it beyond the burdens which collectively anchor us to limiting ideologies. Unless a person is deeply conditioned, disassociated, or ignorant, there is an deep inner knowing that something is terribly wrong in the world and our relationship to it. However, as touched upon previously, most people live lives simply accepting their own counterproductive and unhealthy behaviors as “normal” and “good enough”. Given that our world is a reflection of who we are, the neglect is self-evident and ubiquitous. So when a person chooses to look away and refuses to do anything about these obvious pathologies, they essentially choose to live an indifferent, ego-centric existence, often under the narcissistic fixation with their immediate gratification. After all, this is how most people have been conditioned by society. Oftentimes, people maintain a mask of “normality” to fit in to society under the illusion that everything is fine so long as they remain “positive” and just “obey the rules” to be liked, make money, and avoid anything that might be upsetting. For many, simply “being happy” is good enough, regardless of the crimes and injustices around the world created by their government upon which their standard of living depends.
In this privileged technological age where information is freely accessible and ignorance is a choice, complacency is culpability. If we choose to ignore our social responsibility as a part of the world, distract ourselves with superficial pleasures while avoiding the “negative” aspects of our lives, and abandon our loving courage to seek the objective truth, both within and without, we essentially turn our backs on reality, on true love, our highest potential, and the full richness of life. For the sake of all life on earth, we must nurture the courage within ourselves and others to care about the things that truly matter and move beyond complacency and cowardice.
“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state on innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.”
~ James Baldwin
“Cowardice asks the question, ‘Is it safe?’
Expediency asks the question, ‘Is it politic?’
But conscience asks the question, ‘Is it right?’
And there comes a time when one must
take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular
but because conscience tells one it is right.”
~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
This is not meant to shame cowardice, however, despite how easy it is to be frustrated with it. Underneath cowardice is simply fearful insecurity that has been constantly imprinted in us for our entire lives. When you get upset with people, just remember that THIS PICTURE is what most adults are like inside:
Deep down, underneath the MANY layers of armor and denial, they’re just wounded, frightened, culturally conditioned little children who put on a big show to seem like a tough person by masking and distracting themselves from their fear, sadness, and vulnerability. They often either disproportionately lash out at others, overcompensate in some way, avoid conflict and intimacy, or develop other unhealthy behaviors because they don’t know how to maturely process and express their emotions. Instead, they transfer their feelings through projection or repression. As we see throughout the world, due to this projection and repression, people slip in to the “Victim Triangle” which acts as a vicious cycle wherein people take on the “Protector”, “Rescuer”, or “Victim” role (but cycle through all 3 roles in the process) and are perpetually disempowered due to their own emotional denial and lack of intimacy. No matter what “role” a person identifies with, they will always unconsciously make themselves the “Victim” in some way, which perpetuates guilt, shame, anger, resentment, insecurity, and cowardice.
This is the condition that even the best of us slip in to. Only when we immerse ourselves in the process of psychological healing and self-work can we be more self-aware, responsible, and truly evolve through our distressing, infantile behavior. As adults, we must learn how to nurture and heal ourselves in ways our parents couldn’t, and rely primarily on ourselves, not others, to fulfill our needs. Through our own healing process, we find a compassionate understanding and empathy for others who are still unconsciously reacting, controlled by their trauma and programming. It’s a stage most of us must go through, and it’s not easy.
Beginning self-work, and going beyond our familiar comfort zone into the realm of unknown vulnerability can be terrifying and aggitating. Many lack the support and trustworthy guidance to feel comfortable opening up and exploring in a safe space. Moreover, many people also simply do not have the inherent inclination or capability to “go deeper” in this life time. However, for those with the propensity to awaken, ignoring this call to action will never bring happiness through ignorance. As time goes on, cowardice leads to complacency. Complacency leads to stagnancy. Stagnancy leads to resentment. Resentment leads to animosity and pain, and thereby one has fallen in to the very same discomfort they had initially tried to avoid. The simple fact of life is this: the only way out is THROUGH.
“Whether we use psychological or esoteric terminology, the basic fact remains the same: human beings do not earn free will except through self-discovery, and they do not attempt self-discovery until things become so painful that they have no other choice. If the individual makes no effort to expand his consciousness so that he can understand the nature of his total unfoldment and can begin to cooperate with it, then it will seem that he his the pawn of fate and has no control over his life. He can only earn his freedom by learning about himself so that he can understand what value a particular experience has for the development of his whole self.”
~ Liz Green
“When a man starts to learn, he is never clear about his objectives. His purpose is faulty; his intent is vague. He hopes for rewards that will never materialize for he knows nothing of the hardships of learning. He slowly begins to learn – bit by bit at first, then in big chunks. And his thoughts soon clash. What he learns is never what he pictured, or imagined, and so he begins to be afraid. Learning is never what one expects. Every step of learning is a new task, and the fear the man is experiencing begins to mount mercilessly, unyieldingly. His purpose becomes a battlefield. And thus he has stumbled upon the first of his natural enemies: Fear! A terrible enemy – treacherous, and difficult to overcome. It remains concealed at every turn of the way, prowling, waiting. And if the man, terrified in its presence, runs away, his enemy will have put an end to his quest.”
“What will happen to the man if he runs away in fear?”
“Nothing happens to him except that he will never learn. He will never become a man of knowledge. He will perhaps be a bully, or a harmless, scared man; at any rate, he will be a defeated man. His first enemy will have put an end to his cravings.”
“And what can he do to overcome fear?”
“The answer is very simple. He must not run away. He must defy his fear, and in spite of it he must take the next step in learning, and the next, and the next. He must be fully afraid, and yet he must not stop. That is the rule! And a moment will come when his first enemy retreats. The man begins to feel sure of himself. His intent becomes stronger. Learning is no longer a terrifying task. When this joyful moment comes, the man can say without hesitation that he has defeated his first natural enemy.”
“Does it happen at once, don Juan, or little by little?”
“It happens little by little, and yet the fear is vanquished suddenly and fast.”
“But won’t the man be afraid again if something new happens to him?”
“No. Once a man has vanquished fear, he is free from it for the rest of his life because, instead of fear, he has acquired clarity – a clarity of mind which erases fear. By then a man knows his desires; he knows how to satisfy those desires. He can anticipate the new steps of learning and a sharp clarity surrounds everything. The man feels that nothing is concealed. Every time a man sets himself to learn, he has to labor as hard as anyone can, and the limits of his learning are determined by his own nature. Therefore, there is no point in talking about knowledge. Fear of knowledge is natural; all of us experience it, and there is nothing we can do about it. But no matter how frightening learning is, it’s more terrible to think of a man without knowledge.”
~ Carlos Casteneda, “The Teachings of Don Juan”
“If you always put limits on what you can do, physical or anything else, it’ll spread over into the rest of your life. It’ll spread into your work, into your morality, into your entire being. There are no limits. There are plateaus, but you must not stay there, you must go beyond them. If it kills you, it kills you. A person must constantly exceed their level.”
~ Bruce Lee
Again, it’s important that we not demonize those around us who do not have the same propensity to awaken. We all have our own lessons to learn at our own pace. As we too were once unaware or uninterested in gaining deeper knowledge and undertaking the process of awakening, we must find patience, external consideration, compassion, and understanding for those who don’t yet strive to embrace objective reality, for all its beauty and its burdens. Projecting our frustrations on to others and trying to force others to grow only creates animosity which drives others further away from awakening and in to defensiveness, away from the openness, inspiration, empathy, and compassion which the world so desperately needs.
To find true empathy, we need to understand. In understanding why people shy away from truth, we find a number of reasons many choose not to deeply research or even look at the more challenging aspects of our reality. On a very basic, animalistic level, people are naturally wired to be attracted to things that bring pleasure and security. Among the other circumstances discussed earlier, there are also endless pressures, distractions, and temptations in the external world which divert the attention of people, from the social pressures of friends and loved ones who don’t care to “go deeper”, to glamorized superficial materialism, to simply making enough money to maintain a materialistic lifestyle; all of which may drain a person’s life energy and detract their ability to dedicate and focus themselves. These pressures affect all of us at some point, so being mindful of our own struggle when confronted with the unconscious behaviors of others helps us understand, find empathy, and perhaps offer the opportunity to explore a more healthy and conscious way of being.
“In Western civilization the interior life of the individual, with all its richness, finds itself relegated to a minor role in existence. Man is so caught up in the toils of mechanical life that he has neither time to stop nor the power of attention needed to turn his mental vision upon himself. Man thus passes his days absorbed by external circumstances. The great machine that drags him along turns without stopping, and forbids him to stop under penalty of being crushed. Today like yesterday, and tomorrow like today, he quickly exhausts himself in the frantic race, impelled in a direction which in the end leads nowhere. Life passes away from him almost unseen, swift as a ray of light, and man falls engulfed and still absent from himself.”
~ Boris Mouravieff, “Gnosis”
Internally, the landscape can be a bit more tricky. There are several psychological constructs which inhibit us from researching and being open to exploring things that are more uncomfortable, of even more worldly depths of reality. A few of the most common psychological hurdles are Cognitive Dissonance, Transmarginal Inhibition, the Dunning-Kruger Effect, Disassociation, and Spiritual Bypassing, all of which are different coping mechanisms by which people avoid the pain of their false ideas and identifications being removed. While too extensive to fully explicate here, it would be well worth your time to research each of these issues to see how they affect us and those around us. But again, by recognizing the challenges we face within ourselves, we find empathy and compassion for those still struggling with theirs.
For those who have the courage, fortitude, and love to embark on the path of accelerated conscious evolution via self-work, here’s a general overview of the various aspects to be mindful of in the process. Self-work (like maintaining one’s health) is holistic, having many facets which can vary depending on each individual’s needs, but there are common aspects for everyone which must be attended to if we are to address the entirety of our being. After all, what right do we have to ask others to become more conscious if we, ourselves, are not actively engaging in, and dedicated to, conscious, holistic self-work?
“There is a wisdom in the body, a wisdom in feeling, that when accessed and allowed to operate in conjunction with our cognitive capacities, leads to a deeper, wiser, more integrated life. So we need to get back to the body, which involves much more than just dropping it off at yoga classes or fitness facilities or medical offices. We can get our body more flexible, more fit, and more powerful, and we can load it up with the finest supplements and organic fare, and still be out of touch with it.
Getting back to the body means doing whatever is needed to cut through our disembodied experience, which in part means a journey into and through the very pain that first drove us to dissociate from our body.
In permitting a fuller, saner embodiment of our essential nature, we make possible a deeper life for ourselves, a life in which we cannot help but breathe integrity into our stride, and develop a deep intimacy with all that we are.”
~ Robert Augustus Masters
The body and mind live in a deeply connected psychosomatic relationship, as is evidenced with both A.) the body’s physical responses to emotional stress, and B.) the mind’s capabilities being largely dictated by the condition of our bodies. The degree to which we can optimally care for our bodies is the degree to which our consciousness is supported in its growth. As your physical vehicle through the phenomenal world, it is essential to care for your body and be “in touch” with it. Even though people HAVE a body, most are not actually “embodied”. Nowadays, most people are SO disconnected from their bodies, adrift in cyberspace, fixated on their phones, surfing the web, playing video games, watching TV, sitting for hours on end, day after day, driving instead of walking, taking the elevator or escalator instead of the stairs, doing manual labor, and rarely, if ever, exercising regularly. While it is possible to engage in sincere self-work without a fully functional body (as in the case of amputation, disease, disability, etc.), the degree to which we have a connection to our bodies, whatever condition they may be in, is essential.
“We cannot begin to reign in our madness until we recover what the body knows and learn to accord with it. To root ourselves in that accord is to flood the emptiness of our lives with the experience of the present – the only true way to begin to harmonize with reality. This embodiment revolution begins with the honest recognition of the extent to which we have internalized the hierarchical message – the extent to which its top-down power structure currently lives in us and rules us…
Think about it: you cannot reason your way into the present; you cannot reason your way into love; you cannot reason your way into a harmony of being. More than that, though, as long as the head rules, it keeps you from truly feeling and answering to the currents of your own being; it fragments you on the most personal level, so that even as you obsess over refining your ideas about how best to supervise your progress, you sabotage any possibility that you might respond to your circumstances with your full and unified being – because this inner tyranny obliterates being and silences the body’s wakeful attunement…
The challenge we face is great, because we are starting from a disadvantage: we are divided within ourselves and have been relentlessly habituated to that state by the story that surrounds us – a story communicated by the language, the architecture, the hierarchies, the customs and even the icons of our culture.
Facing the challenge before us is made easier, though, by its sheer necessity – and by the keenness with which each of us feels that necessity in our own lives. We feel estranged from the unity of our own wholeness, and that ignites within us a smoldering anxiety. Such anxiety is the foothold by which those who wish to wield power keep others off balance. That is why they stoke anxiety so deliberately: the more anxiety we feel, the more control we feel we need…” ~ Philip Shepherd, “The Embodiment Manifesto”
In the body, as with the mind as we’ve discussed earlier, we have a tendency to “normalize” physical pathologies that are prolonged. In the bodymind relationship, our body’s tight patterns contribute to our locked-in mental processes. People live with chronic tension, obesity, and poor posture, never truly considering that they have unhealthy aspects that require dedicated attention to understand, process, and heal.
For example: Observe your body right now. Feel what muscles are unconsciously constricted. Perhaps your back, jaw, neck, legs, or stomach muscles causing you to take shallow breaths? All of these are physical responses to psychological stress. But are you in any immediate danger now? Probably not (unless you’ve been glued to reading for hours, letting your butt slowly pancake to your seat, causing your legs to atrophy. In which case, take a walk and come back…) Now, feel your body and sit silently with yourself for a moment. Are you carrying any unresolved stress inside you? Probably. Even sitting in front of the computer for long periods of time causes stress on the body. Now relax your body, take a few slow, deep breaths from your belly, and feel the difference as your body realigns itself to be more comfortable. Feel the difference? Chances are that when you started you weren’t even consciously aware of how tight and uncomfortable your body WAS until you were encouraged to stop, observe, and let it unwind to come to a more harmonious place of balance with gravity, structural alignment, and breathing. Proper bodily posture, alignment, and function has numerous remarkable benefits, all of which are imperative for our physical well-being.
“The character of the individual as it is manifested in his typical pattern of behavior is also portrayed on the somatic level by the form and movement of the body. The sum total of the muscular tensions seen as a gestalt, that is, as a unity, the manner of moving and acting constitutes the ‘Body Expression’ of the organism. The body expression is the somatic view of the typical emotional expression is seen on the psychic level as ‘Character’”
~ Alexander Lowen, M.D.
“An individual experiencing temporary fear, grief, or anger, all too often carries his body in an attitude, which the world recognizes as the outward manifestation of that particular emotion. If he persists in this dramatization, or consistently re-establishes it, thus forming what is ordinarily referred to as a `habit pattern`. The muscular arrangement becomes set. Materially speaking, some muscles shorten and thicken, others are invaded by connective tissue, and still others become immobilized. Once this has happened, the physical attitude is invariable;it is involuntary; it can no longer be changed by thought or mental suggestion. Such setting of a physical response also establishes an emotional pattern. Since it is not possible to establish a free flow through the physical flesh, the subjective emotional tone becomes progressively more limited and tends to remain in a restricted, closely defined area. Now what the individual feels is no longer an emotion, a response to an immediate situation, henceforth he lives, moves and has his being in an attitude.”
~ Ida Rolf, creator of “Rolfing“
This same “normalizing of pathologies” principle applies not just to the body, but also the mind and society. Collectively, we have been both consciously and unconsciously influenced to assimilate to unhealthy ideologies and behaviors since childhood. Our bodies are amazing biological creations constantly communicating with us, giving us immediate feedback regarding our thoughts, behaviors, and environment. Yet we live in a violent society that emphasizes rational intellect and subjugates our body, its “gut-instincts”, and the impotence of being “in touch”. Because we are frequently disconnected with our bodies, and all the feelings therein, we often act in disconnected ways toward others. Human touch and physical care is as vital to our health and happiness as food and water.
There are a few essential ways in which to correct and heal these harmful somatic cycles. Regular massage and bodywork (Rolfing, Craniosacral, Polarity, Sensory Repatterning, to name a few) are very powerful and immediate modalities through which a trusted practitioner can help the body to release stress, increase flexibility and circulation, and restore balance on all levels. These therapies can deeply rejuvenate the body’s neuromuscular system and its orientation to itself and the world. Having gone to massage school and seen many certified massage therapists, I speak from experience in saying that the journey in connecting through healing touch is so amazing, it’s beyond words.
Other ways to get in touch with our bodies which don’t require another person include Yoga, Dance, Qi Gong, Tai Qi, etc. Combining these practices in our lives, even for just a few minutes each day, with other aspects of self-work serves to exponentially accelerate their effects. The scientific research and explanations describing the numerous amazing benefits these practices provide is far too extensive for the purposes of this article, but is readily available online. For the benefit of ourselves, our friends, society, and the world, the holistic care of our bodies is one of the essential pillars of self-work.
“Looking at the entirety of existence, everything is made manifest through the ‘latticework’ of universal energy. Our muscles, tissue, organs and bones are carriers of energy and memory, all of which are interrelated and connected to one another. The body is a holistic organism, where nothing is isolated – everything affects us, both physically and energetically, on some level. Any experience we have ever had – even things that happened to us in the past but were forgotten about or we weren’t even aware of – is still held in the body, be it grief, a broken relationship, emotional pain, everyday stress, childhood wounds, injuries and accidents, trauma, etc.. The body stores the experience and does not “forget” about it until the pattern is released through holistic treatment.” ~ Bernhard Guenther, “Individuality, Embodiment, and the Anchoring of a Higher Frequency”
Another often marginalized aspect of physical well-being is regularly being in nature. Nature, being the foundation of all life, provides holistic benefits which work on ALL levels of our being; however, seeing as how physically BEING in/ with nature is the fundamental prerequisite, we will associate it with the body. In the densely-packed, aggressively linear, high-stress atmosphere of urban areas, our entire being is disconnected and compartmentalized, internally and externally. We are bombarded with non-stop cell phone and WiFi radiation which is known to have negative health effects. We are over-run by unhealthy, processed, factory farm foods. For those of us who are more sensitive and empathic, we easily take on the “feelings” of others which may drown out our ability to remain centered, relaxed, and embodied. So when we allow ourselves to be in the open, expansive, quiet serenity of wilderness, we allow ourselves the natural conditions to decompress, reconnect, and allow the fullness of our being, unburdened by the pressures of cultural conventions, expectations, and obligations.
“The most effective paths to soul are nature-based. Nature – the outer nature we call ‘the wild’- has always been the essential element and the primary setting of the journey to the soul. The soul after-all, is our inner wilderness, the intrapsychic terrain we know th least and that holds our individual mysteries. When we truly enter the outer wild – fully opened to its enigmatic and feral powers – the soul responds with its own cries and cravings. These passions might frighten us at first because they threaten to upset the carefully assembled applecart of our conventional lives. Perhaps this is why many people regard their souls in much the same way they view deserts, jungles, oceans, wild mountains, and dark forests – as dangerous and forbidding places.
Our society is forever erecting barriers between its citizens and the inner/outer wilderness. On the outer side, we have air-conditioned houses and automobiles, gated communities and indoor malls, fences and animal control officers, dams and virtual realities. On the inner side, we’re offered prescribed “mood enhancers”, alcohol, and street drugs; consumerism and dozens of other soul-numbing addictions; fundamentalisms, transcendentalisms, and other escapisms; rigid belief systems as to what is “good” and what is “bad”; and teachings that God or some other paternal figure will watch over us and protect our delicate lives.
But when we escape beyond these artificial barriers, we discover something astonishing: nature and soul not only depend on each other but long for ear other and are, in the end, of the same substance, like twins or trees sharing the same roots. The individual soul is the core of our human nature, the reason for which we were born, the essence of our specific life purpose, and ours alone. Yet our true nature is at first a mystery to our everyday mind. To recover our inmost secrets, we must venture into the inner/outer wilderness, where we shall find our essential nature waiting for us.”
~ Bill Plotkin
“We don’t see things as they are. We see things as we are.”
~ Anais Nin
“If you can try to live with your own nature, as a preliminary step, in order to find out what that nature really is, it might be more rewarding than trying to control it or fight it at this stage. It is necessary to know what you are trying to control before trying to do anything about it.”
~ Fritz Peters
“To the degree that we’re willing to see our indulging and our repressing clearly, they begin to wear themselves out. Wearing out is not exactly the same as going away. Instead, a wider, more generous, more enlightened perspective arises.”
~ Pema Chödrön
To live is to feel, and to feel is to experience emotions. Whether strong or subtle, light or heavy, upsetting or uplifting, emotions act as the barometer to our well-being. The more connected we are to our emotions, the more meaningful and rich our lives become. Emotions are central to our communication, relationships, intimacy, and motivation. They are largely an untapped and unfathomable source of strength, freedom, and connection. Yet, much like our bodies, they are so much a part of us that we often take them for granted. All too often they are ignored, distorted, and suppressed in our society. Yet despite the common conception the “we have emotions”, when our emotions are suppressed, it is our “emotions that have us” in unconscious and often damaging ways. Developing a healthy and mature relationship to our emotions through cultivated psychological knowledge and emotional processing is essential aspect of self-work and truly connecting with others.
“Because feeling emotional pain or discomfort, by it’s very nature, does not feel good, so many of us automatically resist what we are feeling. In doing so we send the message to this feeling, “bad, wrong, no, I don’t want you, go away”. We shoot the messenger. That’s what negative emotions are, they are reflective feedback, a message, a temple bell, alerting us to something within us that is out of alignment. Instead of allowing the message, we shut it up, and never get to the deeper understanding of what it was trying to show us. Until we make friends with our negative emotions, see them as assets instead of burdens, we will constantly be running from ourselves, we will never find true peace, and we will never be whole people.”
~ Jen Thomson
Neglecting our emotions comes in many forms, whether it be over-working, constantly exercising, being lazy, overeating, addictions, disassociating by watching TV or constantly being on the cell phone, trying to always “be positive”, acting tough, nitpicking, fixating on external events, or hiding ourselves away from interacting with others. These continued behaviors, while perfectly natural in occasional contexts, often lead to our deeper, unaddressed emotions acting out in other ways when they are prolonged, such as habitual drug indulgence, violent behavior, irresponsible promiscuity, depression, O.C.D., and other neurotic behavior. By ignoring our own suffering through distractions, we not only limit our ability to be present with ourselves, but to also fully connect with others.
“Most people think of love as a feeling, but love is not so much a feeling as a way of being present.”
~ David Richo
In being present and loving with ourselves and others, psychotherapist David Richo Ph.D., M.F.T., illustrates in his book “How to Be an Adult in Relationships” a simple yet powerful method known as “The 5 A’s” which help us to acknowledge and care for the emotional well-being of ourselves and others:
- Attention to the present moment; observing, listening, and noticing all the feelings at play in our relationships.
- Acceptance of ourselves and others just as we are.
- Appreciation of all our gifts, our limits, our longings, and our poignant human predicament.
- Affection shown through holding and touching in respectful ways.
- Allowing life and love to be just as they are, with all their ecstasy and ache.
“To go truly deep in an intimate relationship, we need to feel safe with our partner. We need to know — and know with our whole being — that we can trust them, and not just when we are physically with them. This trust is based not on thinking that we should trust them, but rather on consistently sensing in our core their trustworthiness—their integrity, their reliability, their commitment to being present under all conditions, their passion for accessing love, depth, and freedom with and through us.
If we cannot count on our partner to consistently take good care of the container of our relationship — as when energy is leaked through cracks created by erotically wandering attention — then we will find that we can go only so deep with them.
If one partner is chronically calling the whole relationship into question every time there’s a fight or conflict, then the other is probably going to become wary of opening fully. Less safety means more shallows. Making the ground of a relationship unnecessarily unstable — as when certain boundaries are overridden or trivialized in the name of “freedom” — keeps our relationship from being as deep and fulfilling as it could be. The point isn’t to create a fortress of security, but to literally be a safe place for our partner to let go of playing it safe. Feeling safe is much more than just feeling secure!
Real safety creates an atmosphere in which we can give our all without giving ourselves away. Real safety makes room for a radically deep sharing of all that we are. Without it, we may seem to be free to go where we could not otherwise go, but such freedom — in its relative superficiality — is actually far more limiting than is the freedom that arises in the presence of genuine safety between intimates.
The safer I feel with you, the deeper I can go with you. The safer I feel with you, the deeper the risks I can take with you. The safer I feel with you, the deeper and more fulfilling the passions are between us. Real safety gives us room to show up in all our colors.
Such safety gives us permission to be in as much pain as we actually are, thereby making possible the healing we need in order to come fully alive, the healing through which we are, to whatever degree, awakened by all things, including our pain. What joy, what benediction, what grace, to share this in the dynamic safety possible in an intimate relationship!”
~ Robert Augustus Masters
Most people have a lot of “armoring” from past, unhealed wounds, and we don’t drop our armor until we feel safe. Emotions need to be validated with our loving non-critical presence as they are in order to process and transmute. This is the essence of “unconditional love” in our subjective experience (since subjectivity is inherently conditional). Allowing presence does not imply passivity or that “anything goes”, but simply being as lovingly present with the total experience as possible. Notice any judgements that come up around your feelings, whether they be shame, guilt, criticism, or avoidance. Through our continued ability to mindfully embrace these difficult, often fragmented aspects of ourselves, our suppressed emotions are met with a safe openness, becoming able to express, fully actualize, and thereby transform themselves in to a healed wholeness of awareness. There is an astonishing amount of beauty, richness, and empowerment to be found by exploring the depth of our being.
“We cannot change anything unless we accept it. Condemnation does not liberate, it oppresses.”
~ Carl Jung
The longer we avoid and deny these aspects of ourselves, the longer we perpetuate, in our minds and our actions, our own suffering and the suffering of others. For example: have you ever seen a person repeatedly getting in to abusive or otherwise unhealthy relationships? Perhaps even in yourself? Underneath the unhealthy relationship we often find an imbalanced dynamic caused by unacknowledged, unhealed aspects of ourselves. This imbalance acts itself out as as insecurity, co-dependence, recklessness, violence, jealousy, guilt, paranoia, infidelity, addiction, and depression, to name a few. Until denied feelings are felt, and emotions are allowed to fully express, we will continue to unconsciously attract experiences to us which re-trigger the same conditions we avoid. But with self-awareness and the guide of methods like “the 5 A’s”, we can begin to confront them and work through them.
“When an inner situation is not made conscious, it appears outside as fate.”
~ Carl Jung
Given this perspective, it’s clear to see that the suppression of our emotions is at a pandemic level throughout the world, as indicated by skyrocketing anti-depressant prescriptions and overall drug use, obesity epidemics, and even aspects of culture that have been normalized, such as violent pornography, brutal sports, and war. These behaviors often act as indicators of deeper unacknowledged and unconscious emotional wounds which have not yet been healed and integrated in to the fullness of our being. This largely unconscious aspect of our psyche, composed of repressed ideas, feelings, weaknesses, desires, instincts, and shortcomings, has been termed “the Shadow” by Dr Carl Jung. The shadow is an archetype that consists of aspects of oneself that exist, but which one does not acknowledge or with which one does not identify. This archetype is often described as the darker side of the psyche, representing wildness, chaos, and the unknown. These latent dispositions are present in all of us in our own unique way.
Shadow Projection is the involuntary transfer of our own Shadow on to others, so it appears to us that these qualities actually exist only in the other people. This defense mechanism arises when we have anxiety about our deeper emotional response that we’ve deemed “unacceptable”. When we have little tolerance for our own emotional authenticity, we have little tolerance for others and we are likely to attribute the sense of our own inferiority to them.
“Of course, there’s always a “hook” that invites our projection. Some imperfect quality in other people activates some aspect of ourselves that wants our attention. So whatever we don’t own about ourselves we project onto other people. We instinctively draw back from our own negative projections. It’s easier to examine what we are attracted to than what repels us. If I am offended by your arrogance it is because I’m not embracing my own arrogance. This is either arrogance that I am now demonstrating in my life and not seeing, or arrogance that I deny I am capable of demonstrating in the future. If I am offended by arrogance I need to look closely at all areas of my life and ask myself these questions: When have I been arrogant in the past? Am I being arrogant now? Could I be arrogant in the future? It would certainly be arrogant of me to answer no to these questions without really looking at myself, or without asking others if they have ever experienced my being arrogant. The act of judging someone else is arrogant, so obviously all of us have the capacity to be arrogant. If I embrace my own arrogance, I won’t be upset by someone else’s [because I have developed understanding and compassion]. I might notice it, but it won’t affect me. It is only when you’re lying to yourself or hating some aspect of yourself that you’ll get an emotional charge from someone else’s behavior.”
~ Debbie Ford, “The Dark Side of the Light Chasers”
This defensive mechanism also collective applies to small social groups and, ultimately, the entire collective of humanity. We often tend to think relatively well of ourselves, considering ourselves to be generally honest, loving, tolerant, strong, hard working, responsible, and overall pretty good. On the other hand, we consider those we dislike as dishonest, judgmental, hateful, weak, lazy, irresponsible, and evil. Throughout history, this psychological tendency has been exploited and exacerbated to stir up societies, often with nationalistic, patriotic fervor for war. Seeing this allows us to understand how conducting dedicated self-work on our emotions is crucial not only for our health but for our relationships and, therefore, the world. It is only when we integrate these shadow elements within ourselves through conscious psychological self-work that we can begin to see ourselves, others, and life more clearly as it is. The degree to which we are able to find understanding which embraces the totality of our being is the degree to which we can hold others with empathy, fairness, compassion, and love.
“Generally speaking, we regard discomfort in any form as bad news. But for practitioners or spiritual warriors—people who have a certain hunger to know what is true—feelings like disappointment, embarrassment, irritation, resentment, anger, jealousy, and fear, instead of being bad news, are actually very clear moments that teach us where it is that we’re holding back. They teach us to perk up and lean in when we feel we’d rather collapse and back away. They’re like messengers that show us, with terrifying clarity, exactly where we’re stuck. This very moment is the perfect teacher, and lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we are.
Most of us do not take these situations as teachings. We automatically hate them. We run like crazy. We use all kinds of ways to escape; all addictions stem from this moment when we meet our edge and we just can’t stand it. We become addicted to whatever it is that seems to ease the pain. In fact, the rampant materialism that we see in the world stems from this moment. There are so many ways that have been dreamt up to entertain us away from the moment, soften its hard edge, deaden it so we don’t have to feel the full impact of the pain that arises when we cannot manipulate the situation to make us come out looking fine.”
~ Pema Chödrön
“Not until we are lost do we begin to find ourselves.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
This integration process, where the ever-righteous ego is forced to let go of the lies it has identified with, may feel like one is “breaking down” but this is really “breaking through”. It is a psychological necessity for conscious human development as illustrated in Dabrovsky’s “Theory of Positive Disintegration” (TPD) which views psychological tension and anxiety as necessary for growth. These “disintegrative” processes are therefore seen as “positive” for bringing about new aspects of conscious awareness, whereas people who fail to go through Positive Disintegration may remain for their entire lives in a state of “primary integration”, or, in other words, less self-actualized.
Integrating, and thereby healing, our emotions can feel scary and awkward as we delve in to the dark, neglected, and vulnerable aspects of our inner world. Thankfully, there are a myriad of amazing methods which allow us the ability to explore, navigate, and integrate these aspects of ourselves that are wounded and in need of integration. Some modalities for emotional processing I can personally recommend are: Gestalt Therapy, massage/ bodywork (discussed above in the section about “The Body”), creative outlets (music, art, dance, singing, etc.), journaling, “stream of consciousness” writing, shamanic healing, weight training and exercise, as well as emotional analysis (such as “The Work” of Byron Katie), among many others. For deeper insight, I strongly recommended reading my other article “The Necessity of Psychological Healing and Education” which covers how to find the right therapist, awareness of the corrupted aspects of psychology, and a more personal, yet big picture perspective on the topic of psychology. Another excellent, highly recommended resource is the article “Spiritual Bypassing, Relationships, and the Shadow” by Bernhard Guenther. Keep in mind that a little reading now could spare you a LOT of hassle in the future.
As we go through the process of emotional exploration and healing through these modalities, be loving and allowing of yourself. Give yourself the time, space, and quiet to really tune in and listen to yourself the way you’d want someone to care for you. Love yourself. Don’t push yourself to “do” anything. Set aside the business of society and all that baggage for the time being. Just allow yourself to BE, and be conscious of it. Observe your feelings and allow them to guide your experience. Don’t be too hard on yourself if things “don’t make sense” or the process is “weird”. Release judgement and simply allow it in to your awareness. Nobody is born with an instruction manual specifically for them; it’s a process of exploration through lessons learned as we g(r)o(w). Don’t compare yourself to others, because the nuances of your process are uniquely yours. Honor that. Set aside impossibly unrealistic ideals of “self-perfection”, because there is no such thing as “perfect”. The more we let go of those ideals, the more clear and sensitive we become in loving our perfect imperfections. Everybody has “stuff” to work on, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Give yourself a break. Often. Gently. Patiently. Appreciatively. A little self-love goes a long way.
“Correction does much, but encouragement does more.”
~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
By allowing ourselves the grace and compassion to heal our emotional wounds, we also enable the full richness of our relationship potential. In connecting more deeply with ourselves, we are thereby able to connect more deeply with others, able to detect and access the hidden layers beneath the surface appearances. Since we are beings driven primarily by feelings and emotion (psychopaths aside), emotional/ psychological well-being is the key to understanding the core of all problems in the world and healing them.
“The healing of our present woundedness may lie in recognizing and reclaiming the capacity we have to heal each other, the enormous power in the simplest of human relationships: the strength of a touch, the blessing of forgiveness, the grace of someone else taking you just as you are and finding in you an unsuspected goodness. Everyone alive has suffered. It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal. Becoming expert has turned out to be less important than remembering and trusting the wholeness in myself and everyone else. Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people. Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise.”
~ Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.
“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”
~ Nelson Mandela
“What you can imagine depends on what you know.”
~ Daniel C. Dennett
Of all the aspects of ourselves, the intellect is often the most emphasized. It’s been the conceptual toolbox by which humanity has crafted some of the greatest innovations which allowed us to protect ourselves from the elements, scientifically explore our world, and manifest our inspirations in to a tangible reality. However, as remarkable as the legacy of the intellect has been, a deeper look at the hyper-intellectualized industrial civilizations will illustrate that the notion of the “supreme intellect” has fallen short of being a saving grace for humanity for 3 primary reasons: 1.) Intellect over-emphasized at the expense of everything else (emotions, body, environment, etc.) creates an unavoidable imbalance and, on a long enough time line, cannot sustain healthy relationships and holistic well-being, 2.) There are several other types of intelligences which are often subjugated for the mainstream “linear & empirical” method of reasoning, and 3.) In the formation of the intellect, most people are taught WHAT to think, but never HOW to think critically. They are mostly taught and judged on how well they are able to retain and recite information, as illustrated in the following video:
In examining the subject of the intellect, we must examine education. It’s well known that mainstream public education subjugates the creativity and idiosyncrasies of students by forcing them to conform to a standardized method of compulsory subjects which frequently have little to no impact or importance on life in “the real world”. It often leaves kids under-educated and unmotivated, unquestioning of their reality and either seeking to appease authority or withdraw from anything involving “education” at all. It’s no surprise that most people never consider becoming self-educating autodidacts, and instead relegate themselves to a life of wage slavery and escapism through superficial pleasures. This is indicative of an induced somnambulistic slavery of the mind.
In understanding what intelligence is and how it works, Howard Gardner, Ph.D., Professor of Education at Harvard University, offers a compelling insight. Gardner’s early work in psychology and later in human cognition and human potential led to the development of what is now 9 different types of intelligences, with the possibility of others which may eventually expand the list. These intelligences (or competencies) relate to a person’s unique aptitude set of capabilities and ways they might prefer to demonstrate intellectual abilities.
This theory has emerged from recent cognitive research and “documents the extent to which students possess different kinds of minds and therefore learn, remember, perform, and understand in different ways,” according to Gardner. “Where individuals differ is in the strength of these intelligences – the so-called profile of intelligences -and in the ways in which such intelligences are invoked and combined to carry out different tasks, solve diverse problems, and progress in various domains.” Gardner claimed that the eight intelligences rarely operate independently. They are used at the same time and tend to complement each other as people develop skills or solve problems.
“[The varying intelligences] challenge an educational system that assumes that everyone can learn the same materials in the same way and that a uniform, universal measure suffices to test student learning. Indeed, as currently constituted, our educational system is heavily biased toward linguistic modes of instruction and assessment and, to a somewhat lesser degree, toward logical-quantitative modes as well. […] Students learn in ways that are identifiably distinctive. The broad spectrum of students – and perhaps the society as a whole – would be better served if disciplines could be presented in a numbers of ways and learning could be assessed through a variety of means.”
~ Gardner, 1991
The learning styles are as follows:
- Visual-Spatial – think in terms of physical space, as do architects and navigators. Very aware of their environments. They like to draw, do jigsaw puzzles, read maps, daydream. They can be taught through drawings, verbal and physical imagery. Tools include models, graphics, charts, photographs, drawings, 3-D modeling, video, videoconferencing, television, multimedia, texts with pictures/charts/graphs.
- Bodily-kinesthetic – use the body effectively, like a dancer or a surgeon. Keen sense of body awareness. They like movement, making things, touching. They communicate well through body language and be taught through physical activity, hands-on learning, acting out, role playing. Tools include equipment and real objects.
- Auditory-Musical – show sensitivity to rhythm and sound. They love music, but they are also sensitive to sounds in their environments. They may study better with music in the background. They can be taught by turning lessons into lyrics, speaking rhythmically, tapping out time. Tools include musical instruments, music, radio, stereo, CD-ROM, multimedia.
- Interpersonal – understanding, interacting with others. These students learn through interaction. They have many friends, empathy for others, street smarts. They can be taught through group activities, seminars, dialogues. Tools include the telephone, audio conferencing, time and attention from the instructor, video conferencing, writing, computer conferencing, E-mail.
- Intrapersonal – understanding one’s own interests, goals. These learners tend to shy away from others. They’re in tune with their inner feelings; they have wisdom, intuition and motivation, as well as a strong will, confidence and opinions. They can be taught through independent study and introspection. Tools include books, creative materials, diaries, privacy and time. They are the most independent of the learners.
- Linguistic – using words effectively. These learners have highly developed auditory skills and often think in words. They like reading, playing word games, making up poetry or stories. They can be taught by encouraging them to say and see words, read books together. Tools include computers, games, multimedia, books, tape recorders, and lecture.
- Logical -Mathematical – reasoning, calculating. Think conceptually, abstractly and are able to see and explore patterns and relationships. They like to experiment, solve puzzles, ask cosmic questions. They can be taught through logic games, investigations, mysteries. They need to learn and form concepts before they can deal with details.
- Naturalist intelligence – Ability to recognize and categorize plants, animals and other objects in nature. Naturalistic intelligence allows people to distinguish among, classify, and use features of the environment. Farmers, gardeners, botanists, geologists, florists, and archaeologists all exhibit this intelligence. This area has to do with nurturing and relating information to one’s natural surroundings. Examples include classifying natural forms such as animal and plant species and rocks and mountain types; and the applied knowledge of nature in farming, mining, etc.
- Existential intelligence – Ability to use collective values and intuition to understand others and the world around them. Individuals who excel in this intelligence typically are able to see the big picture. Philosophers, theologians, and life coaches are among those that Howard Gardner sees as having high existential intelligence. Sees the big picture. Interested in questions about life, death, and beyond. Able to look beyond the senses to explain phenomena. Likes to be outside. Strong interest in society and those around them. Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence such as: What is the meaning of life? Why do we die? How did we get here?
At first, it may seem impossible to appeal or even teach to all learning styles. However, as we move into using a mix of media and learning dynamics, knowledge becomes more easily accessible to all involved. As we begin to understand learning styles, it becomes apparent why multimedia is typically most effective, appealing to a broad spectrum of learners. It satisfies the many types of learning preferences that a class embodies, keeping the information engaging and applicable for optimal absorption.
In tandem with mainstream education’s inability to appeal to the variety of learning styles, students of the public educational system also typically miss out on the most classically renown, fundamentally essential, and important method of critical thinking: The Trivium. It has been suggested that the Trivium has been purposefully removed from public education since students who have the capacity to truly think critically will quickly question and see through the propaganda and shortcomings of the educational system (and authoritarian institutions on the whole). Indeed, the Trivium provides a way to systematically cut through lies, remove contradictions, and navigate through logical fallacies (such as strawman arguments, red herrings, ad hominem attacks, appeals to emotion, appeals to authority, etc), thereby helping the intellect to operate clearly and effectively with discernment.
The history of the Trivium, and its corresponding aspects of the sensory perception, Quadrivium, and the 7 Liberal Arts, is extensive and worth researching on its own, but for the sake of brevity as an overview, we’ll present a synopsis to get a basic understanding. The Trivium, in its most commonly known form, was primarily developed by Aristotle but originates in antiquity, and is comprised of 3 aspects: Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric- specifically in that order.
1.) Grammar (Knowledge of that which exists) answers the question of the Who, What, Where, and the When of a subject, discovering, researching, and ordering facts of reality to acquire Knowledge.
2.) Logic (Understanding of the interrelationships of that which exists) answers the Why of a subject, finding the conclusions based on Grammar/research leading to Understanding.
3.) Rhetoric (Communication of Grammar and Logic) provides the How of a subject, applying Knowledge (grammar) and Understanding (logic) leading to the transference of Wisdom.
As an analogy, if we think of knowledge like building a house, Grammar acts as the building blocks of Knowledge, Logic is the house completely built with all contradictions removed to create Understanding, and Rhetoric is the architect explaining how the house was built so that others can also understand and build their own house through Wisdom. By learning and applying the Trivium, we begin to stop wasting time and energy in unproductive actions and discussions which often hold us back, personally and collectively.
However, no one system is a perfect panacea unto itself. The Trivium has its limitations which must be understood and taken in to consideration, such as constraining “reality” to only that which can be observed through the 5 major senses (ignoring several other senses of introception and forms of ESP), or using incorrect definitions to define the terms of one’s Grammar, thereby falsifying any subsequent “Logic”. Regardless, the Trivium, applied correctly with mindful consideration for its limitations, is an extremely powerful tool which helps us sharpen our minds and navigate through life.
Due to the lack of these techniques for critical thinking to detect logical fallacies, lies, and distortions, the general public has been repeatedly led into disastrous circumstances through manipulations of the mind. For example, we see the “Hegelian Dialectic” (as also discussed in the section on “Psychology, Authoritarianism, and Statism”) to often rationalize abuse, as is seen in the political “justification” for the “War on Terror”.
Step 1.) Demonize, polarize, and exaggerate “the evil, foreign terrorists” to scare society.
Step 2.) Manipulate the fear in to a frenzy with lies, rhetoric, and appeals to emotion and authority with little to no basis in factual reality.
Step 3.) Propose a pre-packaged solution (usually violence) which preys on society’s suggestibility to further a predatory, subversive agenda while deeming themselves the “good guys” looking out for you.
The same goes with religion and its “original sin”, whereby people are coerced through guilt and social pressure to subjugate themselves for “salvation” through a contradictory system which condemns anyone who doesn’t conform and obey. Another example lies within the fundamental premise of government, whereby people are told the world is a dangerous place full of criminals, so in order to be protected, they must subjugate themselves, under force of punishment for the “common good”, to government which lies, steals (taxation), extorts, enslaves (wage slavery, serfdom, or otherwise), assaults, and murders, which ultimately creates the violence it purports to protect from. Quite the hypocrisy, isn’t it?
Systematic methods of critical thinking quickly see through these sorts of manufactured problems, exacerbated reactions, and narrow, self-defeating solutions.
The history of the Trivium and its application is extensive and well worth investigating. For a deeper explanation, watch the following video:
Once we have the proper foundation upon which to build our intellectual “house”, the mind has an incredible capacity to learn HOW TO LEARN even more quickly through accelerated learning techniques. Through utilizing these accelerated learning techniques which incorporate various modalities depending on an individual’s preferred learning style, we can learn to absorb knowledge more quickly, retain more knowledge, recall information more clearly, manage our time more effectively, and become more efficient, productive, and conscious than ever before. By accessing ever greater information, we can gain more knowledge to overcome obstacles and unlock our potential (and help others unlock theirs!).
Let’s address some of these Accelerated Learning Techniques:
- Self-esteem & Willpower play a crucial role in one’s motivation and abilities in learning. This may seem obvious, but it’s so simple that it’s often overlooked. Getting prepared by setting the proper preconditions for learning is like providing nutrients to the soil of your mind’s garden. The more optimal the conditions for growth, the better we can flourish. This doesn’t mean one should inflate their ego and be self-absorbed, but, rather, it’s best to simply have a healthy self-esteem (which ties in to the “Body” and “Emotion” aspects of this section).Compared to people with low self-esteem, people that are more self-confident are often more open, enthusiastic, determined, focused, and willing to take risks, all of which are imperative for accelerated learning. Even in childhood, those whose self-esteem is validated and encouraged through exploration of games and cooperative projects tend to develop much faster, be more well-adjusted, and are generally more capable than those who aren’t. Having a healthy psychological self-image is conducive to having a positive, optimistic, and enthusiastic outlook on one’s abilities.However, if you’re shy and going through a difficult period, lacking confidence and a healthy self-image, fear not. When a person has the willpower and determination to improve one’s circumstances, it can ignite a fire that propels them toward learning in order to make sense of things and overcome their challenges. The steps taken toward knowledge and the marked improvement gained along the way will build a person’s self-worth, especially when they share their experience and knowledge with others, helping those in similar circumstances thereby gaining external validation. The personal connections made through personal sharing and gratitude, especially in times of hardship, are some of the most powerful sources of motivation and support.
- Identify what your preferred learning styles are by taking a look at the list of multiple intelligence above. Do you prefer music or silence when learning? Do you prefer learning in a group experience or being alone to focus? Perhaps the styles could vary depending on the context. Perhaps engaging multiple methods of learning can help increase your ability to retain and apply information. Examples of this are:- Reading, visualizing, taking notes by putting the thoughts in to your own words, and then highlighting the major points.- Creating questions and answering them aloud, while gesturing to physically emphasize the points.Becoming familiar with your natural strengths, and applying them to learn more skills, is the first step to accelerated learning. You may find that new learning styles may develop over time, but don’t force it. The point is to utilize your strengths, your natural inclinations, your talents as a springboard for processing information more rapidly. There’s no point in trying to teach a fish to climb a tree when a fish is meant to swim. So don’t fight against your inherent nature; use it to your advantage. Stick with your natural strengths (but feel free to explore other learning modalities on occasion as well).
- Getting prepared to learn can be just as valuable as what one does during the learning itself. Have you noticed that many of your earliest memories, whether positive or negative, are directly connected to a strong emotion you were experiencing at the time? This amazing feat of recollection illustrates the direct correlation between emotional triggering and the retention of memory in the hippocampus and the amygdala. Since people are naturally inclined toward positive feedback mechanisms (things that bring pleasure), we’ll incline toward more positive emotional triggering as well. Get excited about learning a particular subject by thinking about WHO you will become by learning it, WHAT you’ll be able to gain and give, WHERE you will go by applying the knowledge, WHY it’s important, and HOW it can transform your life and the lives of those around you. Education shouldn’t be a chore; it is an opportunity that opens us up to infinite possibilities! Like athletes before a game, it helps to get yourself “psyched up” (while remaining focused and clear), feeling empowered and making strong emotional associations to the material you’re about to learn.
- If you learn better in a calm, relaxed state, regular meditative practices (meditation, qi gong, tai chi, yoga, etc.) have also been proven to provide a remarkable array of mind & body strengthening benefits which literally increase brain size and create new connections.
- Find your optimal time to learn. Some people learn better in the mornings when they’re freshly awake. Others learn best before bed, finding that they retain information better since the mind is reviewing and organizing itself during sleep. Some people need to specifically set aside time to concentrate on what they’re learning. Explore and discover what strategy works best for you.
- Time Management is an essential organizational tool to effectively handle our busy lives by organizing a broad array of objectives in an efficient manner. While some people have the luck, privilege, or natural proclivity to sail through life doing “whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like”, others recognize that great accomplishment takes great effort, and not everything in life that needs doing will be fun and enticing. Our ability to DO what NEEDS DOING, regardless of whether we want to or not, is a key component to achieving long-term goals, whether it be setting aside the time to practice a musical instrument, read a book, or work out for a half hour every other day instead of mindlessly scrolling through social media websites.Some people quickly get bored with repetitive menial tasks, prefer to fixate on the “fun stuff”, or are so obsessed about detail that they lose the ability to effectively prioritize their time. The habit of procrastination hinders our lives and our abilities to achieve, but thankfully, there are ways to overcome procrastination. Taking 5 minutes at the beginning of your day to organize your priorities in a daily planner (paper or digital) can potentially save you HOURS of deliberation, travel, distraction, and self-doubt. The following video illustrates the power of prioritization in time management, focusing on the bigger issues first, and then taking care of the smaller ones afterward.
- Multitasking is another great way to accomplish more than you thought was ever possible. No time for reading? Listen to audiobooks while cleaning the house or commuting. No time for yoga class? Stretch your body while at the computer or taking a shower. A little mindfulness and creativity transforms our obligations into fun opportunities to maximize our potential.
- Take regular breaks. If you’ve ever rapidly poured water on the ground, you’ll notice it eventually pools and then some of it trickles away. Your mind, much like the soil, has a threshold for what it can efficiently process in a given period of time, and therefore needs a period of absorption to allow new information to soak in. There is a good deal of evidence to show how taking breaks actually increases your productivity. Honoring our mind’s threshold for processing new information by taking regular breaks not only keeps the experience highly productive, but enjoyable, which ensures a bright educational future.
- Stay active. Regularly caring for your body by getting up to walk around, stretch, and go outside is important. Getting in to the body and relaxing allows us to be more physically and mentally free-flowing. When we relax, we take deeper breaths which oxygenizes the blood, which nourishes the brain, which, in turn, creates a supercharged state of awareness and enhanced well-being.
- Learn to read faster and more efficiently. The reasons for doing this are obvious and apply throughout all our lives. Think of how often we read during the day (from the computer to the supermarket) and how much time learning how to read faster would save us. There are numerous proven methods for accomplishing this available online, so we don’t need to list it all here.
- Take creative notes. Putting information in to your own words/ symbols through note-taking/ making pictures combines many aspects of learning in to one practice. Not only will it make review more fun and efficient, but you will learn more quickly since information tends to be retained more easily when it holds a greater personal significance and appeal for you. There are several methods of note-taking which can appeal to the varying styles of learning and help with review later on, such as:- Creating “Mind Maps” to synthesize, distill, combine, and connect core ideas in a holistic, fast, and easily understood diagram.- Making notes in the margins of books, doodling, underlining, using colorful highlighting, or verbally recording your thoughts and passages.- Making funny or memorable mnemonic devices, rhymes, and creative visualization to remember lists or specific details.The human mind is designed to notice things that stand out, that are “unusual”, things that break up the pattern. Adding funny, strange, colorful, or otherwise exciting elements to your learning process will help reinforce your ability to quickly and clearly recall information later on.
- Review often. If it’s worth learning in the first place, it’s worth reviewing it to retain it. To really anchor information in our minds, briefly review your notes after an hour of reading it, then before you go to bed, then after one day, after one week, one month, then after 6 months. Just take a minute or two, grasping the key points. Overall, the total review time will probably take less than 30 minutes in the 6 month period of time, getting progressively easier. To further help, read the words aloud dramatically, even getting in character and using a fake accent to make it more memorable.
- Consistency & Variety keeps us engaged. The more diversely you use your brain, the more connections are made, allowing us to learn more rapidly. Gradual, consistent increase with new exercises, like weight lifting, keeps our minds in shape. Studies have shown that challenging your mind like this can keep it fresh, sharp, and flexible at virtually any age. So keep in mind that dedication to these accelerated learning techniques is the only way to make them work. If you’re easily distracted or procrastinate, keep reminding yourself why this is so important. As the old adage says, “Use it or lose it”. In a very real sense, you are the architect of your own brain.
- Get a learning partner. Engage in question & answer, review, and planning with each other. To communicate, we must put our concepts in clear, concise terms, which helps us reiterate and remember. As one finds in study groups and book clubs, the more perspectives that are engaged, the more windows are opened to flood our minds with the light of new facts and the breeze of fresh concepts. By creating relationships which support this mutual interest in self-work and education, we find support and motivation which can fuel us on all levels.
Furthermore, by learning and applying it with others, we more quickly turn knowledge in to understanding, which is deeper, wiser, and embodied.
“Knowledge is one thing, understanding is another thing. People often confuse these concepts and do not clearly grasp what is the difference between them. Knowledge by itself does not give understanding. Nor is understanding increased by an increase of knowledge alone. Understanding depends upon the relation of knowledge to Being. Understanding is the resultant of knowledge and being. And knowledge and being must not diverge too far, otherwise understanding will prove to be far removed from either. At the same time the relation of knowledge to being does not change with a mere growth of knowledge. It changes only when being grows simultaneously with knowledge.
In other words, understanding grows only with the growth of being. In ordinary thinking, people do not distinguish understanding from knowledge. They think that greater understanding depends on greater knowledge. Therefore they accumulate knowledge, or that which they call knowledge, but they do not know how to accumulate understanding and do not bother about it.”
~ Gurdjieff, “In Search of the Miraculous“
Never underestimate the power of the mind. Your intelligence is one thing that can’t be taken from you, except by severe injury, illness, or sometimes being with someone who you find extremely attractive (you know it’s true!). You could lose all your possessions, all your money, and go through some of the most devastating circumstances, yet your most valuable asset to rebuild in society will always be your mental faculties of knowledge, understanding, and skill. Knowledge is a primary factor that allows you to do almost anything you want to do in life, and it is practically limitless.
It took humanity thousands of years to pass from the Agricultural Age to the Industrial Age. The industrial Age passed more quickly than any other age before in history, starting in 1815 and ending just a few years ago as we moved in to the Information Age. Humanity is moving with exponential expediency from emphasis of physical muscle to mental muscle. Now, due to the consequences of globalized industrialization, we are living in the most opulent yet turbulent time in all of human history with change happening more frequently, more rapidly, and more unpredictably than ever before. If we can say one thing for certain about the future, it’s that it will change even more rapidly and unpredictably than the present. The demand for skills will change with the times, but the ability to rapidly learn is timeless. Therefore, to thrive in the future, we too must change and learn more quickly in order to adapt. We must learn how to learn more quickly and strive to continue learning throughout life for greater awareness, communication, creative potential, expression, self-confidence, income, security, and the ability to overcome obstacles in our path toward wholeness.
“Our science is but a drop, our ignorance a sea. Whatever else be certain, this at least is certain: that the world of our present natural knowledge is enveloped in a larger world of some sort, of whose residual properties we at present can frame no positive idea.” ~ William James
As humanity has evolved, religious, cultural, and scientific dogma has continuously fallen away, and technological innovations have become increasingly sophisticated enough to perceive previously unknown aspects of our reality, such as the discovery of the electromagnetic spectrum over the past few centuries, of which we can only perceive 0.0035%
of with our vision. Technological instrumentation and scientific experimentation with anomalous results have shown that there is far more to our reality than our five senses can perceive, and undoubtedly far more still yet to be revealed.
An extensive history of recorded paranormal and mysterious observations such as UFOs and crop circles, reincarnation with accurate recollection of previous lives, premonitory dreams, channeling, divination, psychic phenomenon, thousands of ancient monoliths around the world with unexplained origin, and other anomalies which are yet beyond the capabilities of science to conclusively determine, have repeatedly suggested to us that:
- humanity’s anthropocentric notions of being “nature’s ultimate creation at the peak on the evolutionary ladder” is dubious at best.
- our materialistic world view and concept of the “evolutionary ladder” is not an accurate representation of developmental sophistication.
- our world and its history, of which we have an extremely limited understanding, is embedded within a complex system of unseen dimensions and densities, with methods of manifestation, channels of communication, and avenues of awareness not yet understood by science.
While the scientific method is an extremely helpful process, it has its limitations. One such limitation is the often-overlooked control variable called “the restoration of initial conditions”. Since we exist in a multidimensional sea of constantly fluctuating fields that we don’t fully understand (even something as fundamental as GRAVITY, as Rupert Sheldrake’s talk on “The Science Delusion” above explains), the implications of unknown causal and correlated interactions are far-reaching. As fundamental as gravity, our consciousness is also not understood, nor the totality of its effects, such as the “Observer Effect“, whereby the outcome is altered by perception . When studying anomalous, unpredictable phenomenon, or even social circumstances in the social sciences- psychology, sociology, anthropology (which are considered “softer sciences” by more hard-nosed scientists), the potential for ascertaining absolutes is not yet possible due to several reasons including an inability to completely establish these “restoration of initial conditions”. This is one basic, yet far-reaching example, but there are many more limitations of science. To explore beyond the boundaries of scientific certainty, we must instead look for alternative methods of verification which provide a high probability to find threads of truth nestled within our collective experience.
Therefore, in order to more comprehensively ascertain the fullness of our being, it is incumbent that we be willing to delve in to alternative/ metaphysical systems of knowledge, such as Astrology, Human Design, clairvoyance and other forms of ESP, dream work, the I Ching, tarot, palmistry, numerology, graphology, and other esoteric systems and studies which have been utilized for thousands of years, all offering us inspiration and insight to our developmental relationship correlating to the greater macrocosm. Being highly skeptical and stone-faced while having personally studied many of these systems for years among professionals has proven the legitimacy of these methods to me. Given the proper expertise, these systems all act as various facets of knowledge through which we can piece together a more holistic understanding of ourselves, such as our inherent strengths, challenges, transpersonal strategies, inclinations, and proclivities towards the fulfillment of our purpose. Of course, as with all aspects of self-work, knowledge and discernment is required since there may be distorted interpretations, and a person’s own prejudices and biases often cloud one’s ability to clearly receive and interpret otherwise reliable information. However, when utilized properly, the process of continuous and sincere in-depth self-work through these various methodologies increasingly clears the obfuscations clouding our perceptions, and, in turn, the accuracy of our inner knowing and intuition tends to grow in direct proportion. It is important to not take any one teaching as “the truth” but as information to create a more well-informed method by which to access otherwise occluded paths toward objectivity. After all, in our subjectivity, our perception is limited, our knowledge ever-growing, and the conclusions we draw often have misunderstandings or gaps, no matter how well-meaning they may be.
Keep in mind that before opening ourselves to this domain and the experiences therein, it’s important to have sufficiently done the prerequisite self-work of embodiment, psychological healing, and research before delving in to unknown realms. If a person cannot effectively deal with the challenges of everyday life, how can they possibly trust themselves to successfully navigate the long, difficult labyrinth of paranormal/ esoteric study with even fewer points of reference to guide them? As one gets in to these studies, this warning is repeated throughout, from Gurdjieff’s “self-remembering”, Mouravieff’s “introspection”, and Castaneda’s “recapitulation”, to name a few. Before embarking on this journey, the importance of first knowing your “vessel”, cleaning it, and adjusting it so that it works properly (a.k.a. Self-Work) cannot be understated.
Going deeper, since the metaphysical realm taps in to the “spiritual” realm, it opens up doors to the “Hyperdimensional Matrix Control System”, which various esoteric teachings each refer to in their own way. Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s work called it “the topic of all topics”, warning of “the flyer” and “the predator” which uses humanity for energetic “food”. Gurdjieff refers to it as “The Evil Magician” using humanity as “Food for the Moon”. The Gnostics warned of “The Archons”. “The Shaitans” of the Sufis and “the Jinn” in Arabian mythology are supernatural creatures who inhabit an unseen world in dimensions beyond the visible universe and interfere with humanity. Boris Mouravieff writes about “the General Law” in his trilogy “Gnosis”. All these teachings describe forces which manipulate humanity and keeps it in its place as a source of “food”, much as humanity farms and genetically manipulates plants, and herds animals for food and their skins. These teachings offer us ancient yet advanced insight for how to “break out of the herd” in a spiritual sense. They espouse that it takes tremendous super-efforts, awareness, and prolonged sincere self work to “escape” these influences. On the path of self-work through exploring these unseen realms, forces arise acting through people around us which create drama, temptations, and senseless preoccupations to dissuade the seeker from striving to awaken, distracted often by those around us who are not interested in awakening, which is the basis for the admonition “A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.”
When breaking beyond conventional limitations, especially through metaphysical research and esoteric study, people will always try to mock, guilt, and shame you for being the bearer of new knowledge and uncomfortable realizations. They will distort your expanded perception through their tiny lens. They will try to make it seem as though you are wrong for being who you are and they’ll try to make you feel small. Your playing small does not serve your greater purpose. There is nothing enlightened about limiting your path in life to comfort the illusions of others. Those who seek Objective Truth are bringers of light in to a very uncomfortable darkness, and it will seek to stop you in any way it can. We must not give in to the darkness that tells us to dim ourselves. Every courageous step toward Objective Truth is what liberates others to do the very same. This is the battle to awaken and we must not lose sight of this objective.
“There are a thousand things which prevent a man from awakening, which keep him in the power of his dreams. In order to act consciously with the intention of awakening, it is necessary to know the nature of the forces which keep man in a state of sleep. First of all it must be realized that the sleep in which man exists is not normal but hypnotic sleep. Man is hypnotized and this hypnotic state is continually maintained and strengthened in him. One would think that there are forces for whom it is useful and profitable to keep man in a hypnotic state and prevent him from seeing the truth and understanding his position.”
~ G. I. Gurdjieff
In modern times, the UFO abduction phenomenon seems to be a manifestation of the very same Hyperdimensional Matrix Control System, as an in-depth investigation will conclusively show that the phenomenon goes well beyond the ordinary physical aspects of “flying saucers and grey aliens” into paranormal and metaphysical realms. I’ve experienced it in my own life, having been abducted with physical scars to show for it, as well as having my ex-girlfriend (who knew NOTHING about the abduction phenomenon) have her first abduction, describing things only a person who had researched the subject would have known. The relationship also ended on sudden, mysterious, and distressing circumstances as well, which is a common theme throughout numerous testimonials of abductees. It’s also very indicative that these phenomenon are often ignored, ridiculed, and even attacked. Could it perhaps be due to the fact that the Hyperdimensional Matrix Control System that works through humanity does not want to be revealed, thereby losing its “food”? After all, if cattle knew what was to be done to them, they would stop at nothing to break out of their cages and refuse to be under control within the rancher’s herd.
For further insight in to the Hyperdimensional Matrix Control system, watch this video, produced by Bernhard Guenther and I, which explores the secrecy surrounding the greatest cover-up of all time, presenting an overview of the UFO phenomenon, aliens, abductions, disclosure, hyperdimensional realities, and what can be done to help protect oneself:
“If we look at the world from an informational point of view, and if we consider the many complex ways in which time and space my be structured, the old idea of space travel and interplanetary craft to which most technologists are still clinging appears not only obsolete, but ludicrous. Indeed, modern physics has already bypassed it, offering a very different interpretation of what an “extraterrestrial” system might look like. I believe there is a system around us that transcends time as it transcends space. The system may well be able to locate itself in outer space, but its manifestations are not spacecraft in the ordinary ‘nuts and bolts’ sense. The UFOs are physical manifestations that cannot be understood apart from their psychic and symbolic reality. What we see in effect here is a control system which acts on humans and uses humans.“
~ Dr. Jacques Vallee
“The scope, frequency, and distribution of the sightings make the popular extraterrestrial (interplanetary) hypothesis completely untenable… Many flying saucers seem to be nothing more than a disguise for some hidden phenomenon. They are like Trojan horses descending into our forests and farm fields, promising salvation and offering us the splendor of some great super-civilization in the sky. Do the ultraterrestrials really care about us? There is much disturbing evidence that they don’t. They care only to the extent that we can fulfill our enigmatic use to them.
The real UFO story must encompass all of the many manifestations being observed. It is a story of ghosts and phantoms and strange mental aberrations; of an invisible world which surrounds us and occasionally engulfs us; of prophets and prophecies, and gods and demons. It is a world of illusion and hallucination where the unreal seems very real, and where reality itself is distorted by strange forces which can seemingly manipulate space, time, and physical matter—forces which are almost entirely beyond our powers of comprehension.”
~ John Keel
“In the case of the idea of man being “food” for hyperdimensional beings, there is an enormous amount of both vertical and lateral corroboration of all kinds. So much so that, in fact, it is almost impossible to understand why it is not generally known. Clearly, there have been deliberate efforts to “hide this fact”. And, the fact that it is hidden may itself tell us something.
The point is, when Don Juan and Gurdjieff and the Cassiopaeans (and others) tell us that our religions, our social structure, our values, our beliefs about our spiritual nature and condition have been deliberately created to perpetuate the illusion that we are free; that we are (or can be) “special and adored children of a loving God”; that we are or can be “co-creators” with God, that we can do anything at all of a positive and powerful nature, we need to carefully examine this issue!
But it is work to examine it objectively. It is hard work because it consists of long and difficult self-examination in order to be able to overcome the emotions that prevent us from discovering what illusions we are hanging onto, what illusions are preventing us from seeing and acting in such a way as to become free.
As we continue to think in these terms, it becomes more and more apparent that this Great Work of the alchemists was essentially the process of becoming “free of the Matrix”, described in alchemical and allegorical terms.
This hyperdimensional world is all around us, yet we are unable to see it because it is beyond the range of our senses. All the objects of our world are very likely just our limited perceptions of what is happening in this total reality.
Since those forces that create and maintain the Matrix have so much to lose, they exert a great deal of energy to keep the Matrix of lies and false beliefs in place. And doing it from a state of hyperdimensional reality enables them to work from a state of timelessness, so as to be able to produce all the perceived effects that support their agenda; the Evil Magician of Gurdjieff; the “Flyer“ of Castaneda; the Shaitans of the Sufis. And the reality has been manipulated for so long that it seems natural. It has become a comfortable prison in which Stockholm Syndrome reigns supreme, and the inmates love their captors.
Thus it is that we may find that our religious myths and rites are remnants of narratives – a message in a bottle – designed to explain these phenomena, and that the monotheistic versions, declaring a Final End, or a Judgment Day of a final end, are merely distortions of the myth designed to establish a Control System on our planet. These distortions are beneficial to those who seek power and wealth, who are under the control of archetypal forces of another realm of which our own reality is but a shadow or a reflection. Let me reiterate: I do not mean, here, to suggest that this other realm is “astral” or ephemeral or non-material. I am suggesting that it is an intermediate realm of para-physical, hyper-dimensional beings whose existence and nature has been carefully concealed from us for millennia – for a reason that is not to our benefit.
And as we have learned from Jesus, Gurdjieff and the Gnostic Sufis, Castaneda, and the Cassiopaeans, the rules of this World in which we live were set up and are controlled by this STS (Service to Self) hierarchy and have been for a very long time. Each and every time the revelation of this Control System is attempted, the Matrix goes into overdrive to destroy it. And it is clear that this is the present situation….It is in “seeing the unseen” that we become aware of higher levels of being; it is in ordinary human interactions that we experience the “battles” between the forces of STS (Service to Self) and STO (Service to Others)! And it is most definitely this factor that the Matrix Control System vigorously attempts to conceal!… In other words, we are not just talking about a “petty dispute,” we are talking about a battle of forces at other levels, manifesting – as ALWAYS – in human dynamics.”
~ Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Having covered these various aspects of self-work, hopefully reflecting upon our own lives throughout reading, one may feel a bit overwhelmed with some resistance, especially if they are new to these concepts. This is entirely normal; it’s a lot to take in. Even along the path of of uncovering and integrating these previously unknown aspects of reality, there will probably be discomfort, sadness, and anger as the old ideas upon which we based our understanding and our lives begins to crumble around us. This is known as the natural and necessary process of “Disillusionment”.
“When a person has lied for a long time, the time comes when he can no longer distinguish between what is false and what is true. People convince themselves of their own lies, becoming victims of their own inventions as they begin to direct their lives by standards of behavior, ideas, feelings, or instincts which do not correspond to their inner reality. What is truly serious in this matter is that the individual loses all points of reference regarding what comprises truth, and what comprises lies. He becomes used to considering as true only that which is convenient for his personal interests; everything that is in opposition to his self-esteem or in conflict with already established prejudices, he considers false.
A person lies in order to avoid difficult problems, to evade responsibility, or to avoid damage to his self-esteem. So the individual constantly lies to himself and to others, and becomes entangled in an illusory world born out of his personal fantasy. He forms concepts, ideas, judgments, aversions, and attachments that have no relation to actual events, but are only the reflection of a life full of lies and listening to lies.
One of the most powerful reasons for lying is to create a good image of oneself, and to prevent others from seeing us as we really are beneath the mask of appearances. Each mask is a lie, and there are thousands in each individual’s collection of disguises. It is necessary to be conscious of this phenomenon of lying, and to realize its magnitude and frequency, as well as the enormous damage it causes.
People are always infused with all kinds of fantastic ideas about themselves, the world, people, love, idealism, society, etc. Led by his eagerness to evade a disagreeable reality, man gives free rein to his imagination and is inclined to believe the first agreeable lie he encounters along the way. The individual projects his personal illusions onto a cold and immutable reality, and thus deceiving himself, he endeavors to contemplate reality through rose-colored glasses.
“Disillusion” is a painful process and can be prolonged, depending on how much time the individual takes to realize he is living artificially and that this condition is a product of his internal dreams. Great courage is required to face reality and to destroy the mirage of a pleasant dream.”
~ John Baines, “The Stellar Man”
As we begin down the path of self work, the old life we once knew begins to fall away in a process known as “disillusionment”. As lies crumble, the connections and circumstances which we once considered home begin to lose their comfort and become constraining, like a nest that becomes too small for a bird learning to fly. Conversely, those foreign aspects of life we once saw as strange and unappealing may begin to compel our curiosity as we see the world through an ever-wider, more worldly, and loving lens. At first, it can be very painful and intense as certain realizations shatter our preconceived ideologies and self-identity. As time goes on, however, and we become more familiar with disillusionment, it becomes easier to recover and reorient oneself with the drive toward Objective Truth as an unwavering compass point on our lifelong journey.
“The way (esoteric, spiritual self-work) is a one-way street. Meaning that whoever begins to walk it is forbidden to turn back. This is not because of some kind of external imperative, but due to the fact that each step forward on the Way irrevocably modifies the content of whoever has started walking it. It follows that he will become more and more of a stranger to his surroundings; that he will lose more and more interest in exterior life, in which only yesterday he participated fully. The appearance of things, and especially of beings, undergoes a deep change in his eyes. He will one day be surprised to constate that certain faces which only yesterday he found very beautiful now reveal to him marks of bestiality behind their features: not all, but many of them!
The more man progresses on the Way, the more his feeling of being a stranger is intensified. Soon he will become boring: later still he will become unbearable, and finally, odious. That is why ‘the prophet is despised in his country, among his close relations and in his own house.’ That indication is precise and leaves no room for doubt. He who wants to start esoteric studies is invited to think it over twice, and weigh it all, before he rushes to cross the moat-threshold. We repeat that it will not be possible for him to return to exterior life and to find his place, his pleasures and his satisfaction there as in the past. However, as well as the difficulties which are the first results of his evolution, such a man will receive comforting impressions, especially in his human relations. He will be surprised to perceive one day that certain faces which only yesterday appeared to him ordinary, today shine in his eyes with a bright beauty. It is because his sight, sharpened by esoteric work, has acquired the faculty of penetrating beyond the external crust. It is amongst these brighter beings that he will find his new friends.”
~ Boris Mouravieff, “Gnosis”
While disillusionment is often an intense process, the pain can be mitigated by keeping our objectives in mind and having support from friends who are also engaged in sincere self-work, whom can provide honest, constructive, and loving feedback. Having a diverse network of friends from which to have feedback and support is essential since life can be increasingly difficult on the path toward awakening, and the more positive influences that help reinforce productive self-work, the better! Furthermore, nobody can see themselves objectively, so the more points of reference from others who can hold themselves in the position of being a neutral observer providing feedback while striving toward objectivity, the more well-informed our perspectives and decisions become.
This aspect of helping one another is crucial. Aiding others in the process of disillusionment from one’s false conceptions of life is called “mirroring”. This is often a tumultuous aspect which must be guided with great care, otherwise the new foundation may be worse than the original one, and to re-correct a re-built view of the world after an initial disillusionment can prove to be even more difficult. Mirroring is an essential skill to develop. Receiving a mirror for objective feedback is a very powerful thing and an extremely profound and powerful way to learn for those capable of withstanding the shock and utilizing that heat in a beneficial way. For other people, however, it can ‘shut them down’, even to the extent of preventing further progress. It’s important to consciously adapt one’s approach by whatever means is needed to reach and help a person more deeply, since there is no “one method of communication fits all”.
When it applies to interacting with others who are all in different stages of awakening, taking a more comprehensive and empathic approach that will allow for these differences in sensitivity (while not compromising the truth) is essential. This is especially true for activists, and it’s worth exploring how this applies in practice.
(Continue to Part 7: “The Importance of Empathy & Compassion in Activism”)