Getting quiet and going inside of our own fears is, well, a scary place to be. But more often than not, it serves us well. Join us for this episode of Speaking True to learn more.
The process of Forgiveness begins with Engaging the challenge in a way that leads to Release, and thus promotes Transcendence.
Discouragement Rising from Within
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about Groundhog Day, the Bill Murray movie. While it can seem like fluff, it actually stands as powerful spiritual metaphor. If you don’t know it, you can click here for a summary, but in short, a journalist repeats the same day over and over and over again until he learns and lives important spiritual principles. In the end, it is not his virtue that leads him there, rather the endless cycle of blunt force feedback in response to his attitude and behavior.
If anything, Groundhog Day is a metaphor for our own spiritual journeys, as life ever so slowly and none too gently shapes us. Groundhog Day gives me a lens through which I can view my challenges lately with a sense of futility in my life. There is ample evidence that little I do actually makes any difference. Just to put it in perspective, I don't think I am unique. And I’m not complaining, merely acknowledging what seems to be true, and that I am experiencing discouragement as a result.
If I practice what I preach I must look to the root causes within me. It could be that the things I do are driven by a desire for ego gratification, or a need for some kind of ego validation. Or it is easy for me to see that a desire for approval or attention may be at work. Or, it's entirely possible I have a need to prove my importance and relevance that is mostly unconscious to me.
You may say, “So what? Isn’t that normal for humans?”
Sure. And yet my Seeing True practice is so clear that our disappointments are always the result of a projection from within me that is not serving me well. And that doesn’t even begin to acknowledge that if my motivations are in fact simply to satisfy self-serving needs, all pretense of virtue collapses. I become just one more self-seeker using the world and its people, which is really a rather ugly and all too common human reality.
I don't want to allow such dishonesty for myself or for my motivations. At the same time, I don’t want to be judgmental or punitive with myself, since those have no value either. What I need is a different way of viewing and experiencing.
What if the Groundhog Day proposition is truer than we know? What if the whole design of Life is to humble us, and thus to awaken us? What if when we cooperate with Life’s processes, we do indeed rise to noble traits like love and service, not as ego reinforcement, but as genuine acts of gratitude and generosity? What if our only other options are delay, denial, delusion and the like, all of which will eventually be crushed by the forces within Life that will have their way with us? What if one way or another, this life or the next, somehow Life will succeed at teaching and developing us?
If these are true, then futility and discouragement are our teachers. They are part of a process that will necessarily bring us home to ourselves sooner or later, and one way or another. The Buddhists say we should abandon all hope of fruition. They mean that when we finally are exhausted enough to yield, to let go of all ideas that we of ourselves can make something of ourselves, then something magnificent emerges.
Many great ones lament that so much is left undone, or that they fall so terribly short. It is not that they deny the roles they have tried and often failed in. Rather that they have taken maximum advantage of the humbling effects of Life. They have been tumbled and scoured and tenderized with unfathomable willingness. Strangely, in being diminished, greatness rises of its own accord through them. Life does not break them, it breaks them open so more can manifest.
Seeing True™ in Action
If our purpose is to grow and be developed by the forces of Life acting upon us, what actions can you take today, or tomorrow, or over and over again that make you teachable?
If you find yourself unwilling to be molded by Life itself, balking or shirking or hiding or denying, can you tell yourself the truth of your avoidance?
If the growth and development of your True Self is actually all that matters, what is holding you back?
When suffering arises, it is a sure sign we have become attached to something. We are called to bring it into awareness to find a way to release it, to put it to peace…which we might call acceptance.Read More
I’ve recently encountered an emerging revelation in my life, but before I explain that, this all snapped into focus when I recalled a conversation a few years ago with a former girlfriend who now is polyamorous. Yes, she has multiple, ongoing intimate relationships.
My response was almost entirely one of curiosity, without any notable judgment. I asked her to tell me more, and then proceeded to research it to satisfy my curiosity. I concluded it really did make sense in the same way that every other means of loving and being loved makes sense. Nature prefers diversity of every kind, so of course there would be an infinite number of ways to express and experience love as well as relationship. Then I simply moved on with my life; this new way of thinking folded in with all the other ways of thinking.
Polyamory (from Greek πολύ poly, "many, several", and Latin amor, "love") is typically the practice of, or desire for, intimate relationships where individuals may have more than one partner, with the knowledge and consent of all partners It has been described as "consensual, ethical, and responsible non-monogamy".
With that as background and context, for the past eighteen months I’ve returned to therapy after a long respite. For the record, I am a huge fan of professional help whether with coaches, therapists, councilors, or spiritual advisors. After all, why would I ever think I know enough for dealing with life?
Regardless, my current support comes from a Jungian Analyst whom I sought out because of interesting dreams and inner stirrings. We’ve been exploring aspects of who I am that are long buried or unresolved, the kinds of things that are vague and ephemeral yet, increasingly important as a middle-aged guy seeking to navigate his life as usefully and effectively as possible.
Especially we’ve been exploring who I intend to be as parenting and career recede in terms of their importance. Where would I like to live? What kind of life? With who, and doing what? To what end? What matters most now?
One starting point was an investigation into what gives me fulfillment. In one particular session I simply burst loose with a long string of transcendent experiences during which I wept with joy many times as I recounted these. Then I told her I feared I was simply an intensity junkie, a psychological thrill seeker. She leaned into the conversation with me, and a dam burst within. There was so much about myself I have held in condemnation, so many things about my innermost self that I have denied or feared to express, largely because these are at odds with society’s perspectives.
We began a continuing series of reframing sessions. It turns out I am a seeker of solitude, valuing time with and by myself above all others. And I am deeply creative, so much so that there is insufficient space in my life for all I wish to create, and the demands of day in, day out life can be difficult for me. Increasingly it is clear to me I am deeply emotional and experiential. While I have a strong thinking aspect, my greatest cravings are to feel and sense. At best I am a full-time, all-time student, an aspiring mystic seeking to slip the bounds of the material, corporeal world. I see wonder and beauty and the Divine in all things.
I am polyamorous, not in relationships, but with the world and life itself. I fall in love with people, and places, and things, and ideas, and experiences, and questions, and perspectives … over and over and over again. I do not contain well. Nor do I wish to do so ever again.
This reframing is allowing me to embrace what Carl Jung would call my True Self. It is simultaneously invigorating and frightening. And yet I seem unable to resist the call. Come what may, I will follow where each step draws me.
Inner engagement practiced outwardly leads us to resolution that transforms fate into destiny. To thine own self be true.
Seeing True™ in Action
What will you do today that will allow you to begin exploring your path in ways yet untapped? What is holding you back?
Every interaction we have with the world is defined by the stories we tell ourselves about the situation. In this episode of Speaking True, Ron talks about judgement and how it created a story he was telling himself.
I was recently asked whether I had written about dealing with conflict. Much to my surprise I had not. That’s all the more curious since I am often hired by client groups to help them navigate conflict. So now, within minutes of the question, I’m realizing the need to step into the conflict arena.Read More
Best of the Best of the Best
In a recent workshop that was a bit of a fusion between twelve-step recovery, forgiveness practice, and spirituality, someone asked me what I thought was the “best of the best of the best” wisdom I had received in my journey. It produced a really interesting conversation with those in attendance, and caused me to continue to ponder the question. There is so much information that comes at us, from endless sources. It really can be quite difficult to discern.
As I’ve contemplated the issue, I finally arrived at what feels like the correct question. What wisdom or practices have made the biggest difference and why?
The first came to me from a book, The Kingdom of God is Within You by Leo Tolstoy, which turns out to have been instrumental to Gandhi in his practice of non-violence, which in turn influenced Martin Luther King, Jr. However, Tolstoy’s thoughts were merely an entry point. I came to understand one thing I’d simply been unable to see. The twelve steps suggest that whenever we believe we have a problem, it’s not outside us, but with our inner relationship to the apparent problem.
The real problem is within us, so too is the solution. If you want to change anything externally, start within.
I was blown away that I had never truly understood. Nothing in the outside world is actually my problem. While I may need to take action to address or remedy something, all the important work is an inside job. That awareness has revolutionized my approach to life. I always look first to understand the source of my frustrations, anger, discontent and the like.
The second bit of wisdom emerges from the first. If it’s true that everything is an inside job, I can let you off the hook. There is no place for judgment or condemnation in my framework for living. And if that is true, then I likewise might as well surrender my opinions about life and my life as well. It turns out that most of my opinions are not just unhelpful, but irrelevant. No matter how I feel about something, it is unlikely to alter that thing in any way. People and life have their ways no matter what I may think of them.
Accepting life and people on the terms they offer is a magic elixir.
Once again, that does not mean I do not take action where it is warranted. Rather I can let go of my endless list of expectations and ideals, which allows me to deal with reality. Given that I now know I am often in denial or delusion, acting consistent with the way things really are is an amazing proposition.
Last, and perhaps most difficult has been the idea of one day at a time, or one moment at a time if you prefer. While there may be some value in surveying one’s past in order to gain better understanding, and value in planning simply for the sake of analyzing what we may intend to do, there is actually nothing other than the now. Even Albert Einstein said time is an illusion. But it took meditation practice to teach me just how distracted I can be as well as how sweet can be the moment in which we are hanging on the edge of the present.
Everything that matters is right here and right now.
All my troubles exist somewhere else.
When Eckhart Tolle uses the phrase for which he titled his book, The Power of Now, he is pointing us powerfully toward power. Someone once told me there is not God of yesterday or tomorrow. And yet, as any of us can attest, it is so very easy for our attentions to be elsewhere.
We have been invited to the party of life as privileged guests. It is not about us, or even for us. Yet we are beneficiaries.
Seeing True™ in Action
Nothing of significant benefit comes to us without effort on our part. At a minimum we must practice in order to progress.
What efforts will you make today? Why or why not?