It is risky speculating on what personal growth will look like. What I anticipate gets in the way of what will actually happen, because my conception of good does not fit what is really good, and can get in the way of perception. But there are things I know, now, and ideas I have- a bit like the Drake equation, all the variables we would need to know.
There is the defended self, the undefended self, the path or gateway between, the barrier, the defences. I have various names for the undefended self, each of which makes me see it differently: Real me, Organismic self, Inner light. There are other names: what about “Inner child”?
Or “The muse”. My Two souls poem pictured something I still have not realised. Lemn Sissay writes of composing as a teenager, “I had written poetry in earlier childhood but this was me and me alone, channelling something bigger than me that proved I wasn’t alone. The proof was there on the paper. The evidence. I was alive.”
I might say, I am one of unclean words and of a people of unclean words, and how can I find Reality with words? Well, give the words to Reality. But that Two Souls poem frightened me. I would have to transition, and I did not think I could. Twenty years later I am still catching up.
An answer to words is wei wu wei, do without doing, effortless action, moving naturally without conscious judgment and doing what needs to be done, in the moment and not in past and future. Then the blockage is my judgment and lack of trust, my need to second-guess myself. Mary Lutyens wrote of Krishnamurti, “K lost his memory of the past almost entirely. This was consistent with his teaching that memory, except for practical purposes, is a weight that should not be carried over from one day to the next.”
What blocks me from it? Fear of The Monster, of death, but that only says how great the fear is rather than what I feel might actually happen. There are also little fears, of not understanding, or being left out, humiliation, getting things wrong, anything I fear. There is the harsh inner critic, which claims my feelings are not genuine, and my motives are cowardly and self-serving in the most ridiculous, self-defeating way.
Asking “What do I feel, now?” may help me through. Part of the problem is denying or suppressing feelings, or my loss of understanding of what the feeling is. Until last autumn I would never have thought myself anxious. Recognising the effects of my anxiety may be liberating in the long run. That suppression, called “defences”, may be better seen as introjects. They defend me from no real threat. Lemn Sissay again:
A foster child will expose the cracks in the familial veneer. Insomuch as the foster child is a cipher to the dysfunction of a family and also a seer. But the responsibility is too great for a child and so he finds himself manipulated and blamed for what he exposes by the simple virtue of innocence. The wrath this innocence incurs is deep and dark.
That “simple virtue of innocence”. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”
I judge the Real Me as bad, foolish, unsophisticated though when it manifests, as when I know that I am telling the truth with my whole being, like giving ministry. Then I experience the undefended self, but it seems I might- go deeper.
There is how I feel about my experience: I have the feeling it might be digested, processed, accepted. I have told of past events and felt the same thing I felt at the time, and seen others like that, and it is being trapped in the past by unprocessed experience. The Dalai Lama talks of “emotional disarmament” to heal conflict.
When I realised I was on a spiritual journey, I wanted to stop feeling anger and fear, and when I realised that it seemed impractical: and now I stop resisting anger and fear. Jamie Catto said, “If I could answer the question ‘what’s wrong with me?’ I would not have to feel this feeling any more.” Then I read, and he said “So gifted”, and I note it down because it pleases me and I want to imbibe all the sweetness from the comment.
In minstry, someone spoke of “The unbearable beauty of the holy Source”. And later in the week in worship I felt horror and wonder, as my joys and sorrows are too great for me to bear. “It is so much!” I thought, and felt my body relaxing, then getting tense again.
There is the Deathless land, where we let go of these things. I may not dwell there yet, but the glimpses nourish, and I hunger for it.