The Question that Allowed for an Answer
One of the challenges with being a workshop facilitator, a developmental coach and a consultant are the questions that arise. Some of them are incredibly difficult to tackle, and some defy answers. Many years ago, my long-time spiritual mentor gave me a useful insight. He said, “Ron, if we are quiet enough on the inside, we’ll see the answers arise in response to the question.” So more and more my practice in the world tries to keep the inner clamors quiet so clarity can come. At best, answers really are effortless, because I’m not in charge of producing the answer. At worst, the many inner voices and perspectives are too great to overcome, in which case I just need to go do something else.
A friend and professional acquaintance, who knows a lot about all the spaces in which I play, asked me for some assistance. She was getting ready to lead a yoga study group through some new and untried material when she asked me, “What’s the formula for transcendence?”
I have to admit that the clamor that arose within me was really loud, though mostly dominated by an inner critic that said over and over again, “Ron, who the hell do you think you are?”
It took a few deep breaths to silence my inner troublemakers along with all their mischief. And then …
An Answer Came
We are born with an innate desire to grow and develop, not just in the world, but as beings. If that urge is not apparent to us, it is merely blocked off by any number of worldly limiters. Carl Jung’s entire body of work looked to open up our ability to see first our shadow selves, then to see beyond that to our true selves and true nature. Gurdjieff and his work in the Fourth Way taught us not only is the desire innate, but so too is the capacity. We have the inner means to be self-developing; it is our psycho-spiritual nature.
The key challenge is that we want to go toward what some call “awakening” but there are blocks in our psyches. Often, we lack tools or guidance on how to navigate this inward space. More challenging still is our resistance to working through the darkness of the shadows to find the light that illumines.
Arlo Guthrie says, “You can’t have a light without a dark to stick it in.” Thus, we have to engage the shadows through the help of teachers and teachings. It doesn't seem to matter what the orientation. I know profoundly wise women and men who can lead others as evangelical Christians, Buddhist teachers, practitioners of New Thought, recovering alcoholics, intellectuals, Tai Chi masters, and countless others, as well as a few mad mystics just to round out the mix.
Jesus said you can’t put new wine into old wineskins. (As a recovering alcoholic, I’m particularly amused by that analogy!) We have to deal with the shadows within at the same time we pursue the light.
Pema Chodron, the masterful Buddhist teacher, contends we must lean into the sharp points. We can’t avoid the pain and discomfort. The secular wise woman Brene Brown has made an extraordinarily good case for the power of making ourselves vulnerable. We have to allow ourselves to be impaled on the thorns of ourselves.
As my long-time mentor says, the design of the universe, the spiritual realm, the soul and the self are ever in our favor. We cannot not breakthrough if we are willing to follow the way that is provided to us.
We have to engage. We cannot hang back.
Joel Goldsmith, founder of The Infinite Way, and Eckart Tolle, the translator for The Power of Now, both tell us the same thing. It’s exactly the same destination espoused so eloquently in the words of Rumi, the Sufi mystic. We arrive there whether we “detach” as Al-Anon teaches, or move past our attachments as practicing Buddhists. It is in the silence of the Quakers, the enlightenment and liberation of the Jewish Kabbalah, the forgiveness of Jesus, or the soul restorations of the Shamans. One friend found it in a Lakota sun dance, another in South American ayahuasca. The ancient Tibetan’s taught that it is in the body not in the mind.
We have to engage. We cannot hang back.
“One answer for one question. The question must come first.” Master Samwise
With inner clarity, sometimes we will see in ways that are entirely fresh and new.
Seeing True™ in Action
One day while attending an evangelical retreat at the behest of a dear friend and mystical Christian, I heard the preacher say, “Our purpose is not to call others out, but to call them up.”