in the silence

I don’t believe in one “inner light”. Rather, the light one accesses is what one has suppressed, so that it can only be heard with concentrated attention. This will be different for each individual. So it is like the Shadow, unconscious, feared parts of the human being, until it is brought to consciousness, healed, matured and integrated. Then one acts as one whole human being, in the light which is from the whole human being, and there is no more shadow.

In worship I do not find one Inner Light. I find something which I do not trust. I have only been clear about a concern in retrospect: when it is complete I recognise I passionately wanted to do it, did it, and it was Good.

Humans understand in words by creating stories, and we understand immediately without words, and I found that direct perception painful, untrustworthy and difficult. I was badly damaged as a child, cut off from my feelings and desires so I did not know what I felt or wanted. In my early thirties I found my feelings were anger, resentment, frustration and fear. I wrote in my diary that it is time to rebel against my parents. Since then, I have been doing teenage. Then I found Quakers.

Still for me my feelings were that shadowy inner light, things that seemed wrong or threatening or not properly deferring gratification so not adult. In this culture we refer to an “inner child”, denigrating it: my inner child is as old as I am. Or praising it: we become like a child to enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

Usually I simply suppressed my feelings. Then in 1999 I found a suppressed vulnerable part within me which I could suppress no longer. As it surfaced the conscious part of me identified it as the Real Me. I saw it as feminine, and have expressed it in part through my transsexual transition.

And I feared my feelings. I would feel anger or fear, and fear that the feeling would overwhelm me. You will have had the experience of fighting back tears- it’s like that. It was paralysis.

Or a feeling was impossible for me. I could not be confused, I was highly intelligent and should see what is going on. Recently I saw I was acting as if anxious and confused, and thought, perhaps I am anxious and confused. Confusion is easier for me to see in myself, now.

So much was unconscious. I was blind to it, and excavating it has been difficult, painful, rewarding work. I realised I saw myself as absolutely worthless, and seeing that, then observing myself, I have been able to discern good qualities in myself.

I had the idea one should sit still in worship. Some Friends shifted in their seat occasionally, some sat in the same posture throughout, feet flat on the floor, hands folded in lap. Wherever I am I want to fit in, not make a fuss, follow the rules, so I wanted to sit still. I was concerned to find myself adopting closed body language, arms crossed, legs crossed, and perturbed that I was shifting in my seat. I resisted it.

What you resist persists. I thought about it more. Living with it during worship, I gradually permitted the moving. I began to see it as self-protection. Open body language signified openness. I would be open to the space and the people. Then I would curl up, and close off, when I needed to retreat. Recovered, I would open again. If I ministered, it was from the open position.

Over a period of years, I moved from resisting closing off, through accepting it, then valuing it, seeing what it achieved for me, then needing to do it less. Around Autumn 2016 I had mostly stopped.

In 2017 I was seeking to be aware of the flow of my feelings in worship. I resisted this, too, at first. I have an inner light, I thought, my link to God, pure good and truthful, and this is nothing like that. It is mercurial, painful, incomprehensible, often ridiculous. I am quite clear now that seeking to know my feelings was my way to find that inner light, but at the time it felt selfish, a misuse of Meeting.

One thing stopping me hearing the inner light, or the integrated human, is my conception of what it is and what it would say, my inability to conceive it saying that. So I ignore it until it convinces me it is in fact saying that. Behold I stand at the door and knock.

Also a Friend was quite sure of the complete separation of spirituality from “mere” emotional states, from her own experience and her wide reading. That might be true, for a person fully in touch with her emotions.

I became more aware of feelings. I would find myself thinking during worship of something that had made me angry years before, and chide myself- surely that is not still bothering me? Then it seemed that the feeling was real, and the thought of the past event was a way to bring a current feeling into consciousness.

This was a painful process. I resisted and feared my feelings. I would rock, cry, occasionally gasp, twist tense and contort my body, and be in discomfort. And it was a blessing. I was finding myself and growing to value myself- two entwined processes.

In October 2018 I received a blessing. I meditate by myself at home, irregularly. I had been avoiding meditating because I feared I would be conscious of all my pain, and it would crush me; all my trauma would retraumatise me, and I would be only the pain. Then after weeks I suddenly and spontaneously knelt to meditate. I felt all my pain, and felt no fear or resistance to it. I was with my pain, and I could bear it.

People seeing me worship since will see me rocking or contorting less. I might even sit still for a whole meeting!

I am profoundly grateful for the time in worship doing this. Often, at the start of worship, I would look round the people there and think of what I knew of them that was honourable, just, pure, pleasing, commendable, excellent and praiseworthy, and now I might spend a meeting dwelling on Love; but this was a healing process for me, bringing me closer to Light, and I am grateful for it.

I knew it might bother other worshippers but had no idea how much. One described me as a ticking time bomb preventing her from centring down, such that she ceased attending. I am desolate that that happened, and not solely responsible. I want you to see the benefit of that stage in my worship for me. It was what I needed to do, and in times of confusion or growth in the future I may be back there again: I think the process is mostly complete, not totally. Had I known I might have done something different; or possibly explained, so that I was not so distracting. We should speak our tensions before they explode.

I was blaming myself, though. Then a Friend wrote, the woman who left should own  her actions. So I feel a bit better.

I am more integrated than I was. I am more able to discern my inner light. Worship has profited me. I would work hard to help it profit others, whenever I see the opportunity.

Summer Gathering (Sketch 5)

Efflorescence, Klee, in part“You are on a very long journey,” said the woman. Oh yes, Caliban to Ariel- but I did not have the words for it then, only the struggle and the anger. A week on a campus with Quakers was the perfect place to poke my illusions, and show me what matters to me.

We are an odd lot. We like to imagine ourselves calm and wise, so avoid the appearance of conflict; and “Plain-speaking”, so dive into it. I like getting to know people. Here is a man who has led a committee of twenty and 125 volunteers for two years fundraising for a statue of Walton in Oldham, where Walton was born; they have raised ÂŁ3000, and would have been better spending their time in menial jobs for the money. I joined a couple walking across the campus, and when the wife went off to get coffee the husband said, “Do you mind if I speak bluntly? Are you having a sex change?” I could wish these people less perceptive, sometimes. They notice so quickly. One said it was obvious I wore a wig, because it was flat, not moving like real hair.

We were assigned small groups, to spend an hour together each day, but our two facilitators had not had time to discuss how they would run the group beforehand. A woman told me she had been playing croquet when “this idiot” came over and demanded her friend go to discuss the group. Of course she refused. I got irritated that we spent the first of our five hours together discussing how we might spend the time- I wanted more structure- but when Philip produced a conch for people to hold, so that one person would speak at a time, Peter picked it up and said he did not want to proceed in that way. Next day some were missing.

We hurt, and we open. Jeff was alcoholic until he decided he had to Be Himself or die. When I said I had avoided suicide by deciding that I must not hurt my father, a woman said how serendipitous the conversation was, as she sought to console her friend whose daughter had killed herself. So I shared about how angry I felt about the oppression of my kind and the lack of self-worth we feel, and how liberating transition is- like moving from monochrome to technicolor.

During the week, I went to Leicester to consult with Dr Khoosal, a psychiatrist. I needed a second opinion so I could have my penectomy and vaginoplasty. He told me I was not ready: I needed laser treatment to remove my pubic hair and speech therapy. He thought I should not have testosterone suppression. Until I sorted all this out I could not have the Op. When I finally brought myself to open his letter weeks later, I found he recommended surgery: he had seen my distress, and changed his mind. However I left Leicester unable to express my misery or anger. I curled in a ball on the floor, and my friend covered me with a blanket.

I met a woman who had transitioned ten years before. She told me that she had put transition behind her and was simply a normal woman- an enviable state, I thought. Then she moaned about her wife and about transition experiences: she still felt the same anger. I asked a solicitor in the Blue Group what was the effect of a decree nisi without a decree absolute after ten years, and she revealed she was the trans woman’s daughter. Despite all my sharing, she had not thought to tell me before.

Before transition, I had loved country dancing. I could get high on movement, music, touch and eye-contact. I travelled to Germany in a demonstration team. Now, trying it in an afternoon session, I got angry with the others bodging, and laughing at their mistakes and ungainliness- this can be so much more! Worse, I was embarrassed and uncomfortable dancing on the man’s side, and confused on the woman’s. I left early. On the Friday evening I danced in the closing Ceilidh. Yes, I see other people are enjoying themselves, and still feel angry. So I went to find Anthea, the healer.

Efflorescence, Klee, a bodyWe went into the deserted Hazlerigg ballroom. This Healing stuff really is ridiculous mumbo-jumbo- but having nowhere else to go, I go along with it. She places me in a golden circle of light, so that only the highest and finest energies may come through it, then asks me to focus on my chakras: what colours can I see? None. I do not have a mind’s eye. We both insist, and eventually I give up, picking red.

Can I imagine my coccyx extending downwards to root in Mother Gaia? No. I try to extend it, and it pulls back. The base chakra is tribe and family, or roots. Sit on the ground to root- but I cannot trust. I express my anger, not at Dr Khoosal, I am pleading with him: how did you diagnose? Can you not see I am female? Have you any idea how I feel?

Then I am back at my mother’s death bed. I look down on you with the foam on your lips and scream at you. What did you mean you still have work to do? Did I ever smile? Did you ever smile at me or touch me?

I hear the Carpers at the back of my head. There are three of them. The first is like a baby, I can pick him up and cuddle him. The second has chalk and a blackboard, to teach me. Anthea says I should help him write out his feelings, then burn the paper. The third is a mass of energy, a black hole destroying light. She says nothing. I try to touch her hand, to make friends as with a cat in the garden. I need to integrate, love, and calm these aspects of myself.

Anthea suggests I have a shower and go to bed, and in the shower I find myself channelling healing energy through my hands.

Efflorescence, Klee

Untestable hypothesis

Off round the blogs again, this time to Galileo Unchained, a Rationalist site. When I said I have certain experiences which might be explained supernaturally, a commenter replied,

 But they might ALSO be interpreted naturally, right? And is that what you prefer to do, or do you get kind of a thrill out of thinking you’ve somehow plugged into the great unknown spiritual realm? Or is it just possible that you’re willing to shrug and say “Who knows? Hard to tell.”

Another useful quote from the comments here is:

“Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

 —Michael Shermer, founder of the Skeptic Society

A good variation on the Curse of Intelligence: clever people can make all sorts of screwed up ways of being in the world almost work, so that we do not improve on them.

At one point, I would have used Scott Peck’s four stage theory of personal growth to think, “I am more mature than they”- Rationalism is his third stage, explaining everything, and Mysticism is his fourth, involving inter alia living with things as they are without needing Classifications and Understanding. But then I found the wonderful Rationalist site Less Wrong, where much of the Maturity stuff I was taking in was espoused on a Rationalist basis. Oh well.

I could impute worse motives than thrill-seeking to myself, for imagining myself plugged into the Spiritual Realm. Hucksterism and charlatanry: I know, really, that there is no “spiritual” explanation for my Healing, and so I wilfully suppress that knowledge so that I can, in the long run, make money from it.

I know that God and Spirit is the Untestable hypothesis, which can be used to explain everything from the movement of the planets in the sky to the movement of the human heart, until a better explanation becomes available. And yet, I have my experiences, which are beautiful, and it feels to me possible that Spirit/ Lifeforce/ Whatever is involved. So I retain the possibility in my mind, along with the possibility that there is no God, and me waving my arms about in a particular way is something people might be willing to pay for.

And- I think that explaining things and distinguishing things and describing things and causal links with language is extremely important and can go a long way- and when I can go no further with that, I have to relate and perceive, and be open to possibility and different perception. And it is tempting to classify and describe when one does not have the knowledge to do so accurately, yet always necessary to push the boundaries of what is describable. Though I think many Rationalists realise this too.

Qi ki prana

Qi is the same word as ki, as in reiki, explained D. Chakras come from yoga. Yoga uses the idea of fields of energy in the body, and calls it “prana”. So my spiritual healing with the Friends Fellowship of Healing or the Healing Trust is an eclectic mix of Eastern ideas of different traditions, building on a Christian idea of healing by the laying on of hands, which can also be found in Hippocrates; and the locations of energy centres, and their meanings, are different in different systems.

I had thought that I wanted to develop my own understanding, my own intuitive feeling with my healing, but now I feel moved to investigate the observations of others, and the dogma, if any, which has grown up around this. I also want to spend more time with people whose hands get warm. More training beckons.

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My morning and evening ritual now begins with ten minutes kneeling, opening my chakras.
Open the base chakra, open the connection to the Mother Earth, Gaia, life and growth.
Open the creativity chakra, spinning, glowing, making.
Open the solar plexus chakra, projecting my power in the world.
Open the Heart chakra, open in love of all things.
Open the throat chakra, to speak my truth in the World.
Open the third eye chakra, to perceive Truth.
Open the crown chakra, open to Spirit Love and Truth.
Open the past life chakra, a source of love and energy
Open the Soul star, my connection to all living things with whom I connect.
Open the Stellar gateway to the Light of Spirit Who is God.

The last three I hear of through the golden light project. They have meaning for me.

Also, I am standing on one leg, to develop leg strength and balance, and punching a shoulder level punch, one hundred at full focus, to develop a beautiful first kata.

I am considering focusing on these energies to mitigate insomnia.

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M sat down, and I did a-

you know, my thing. I stand behind her, and stick my hands out, not touching her. I move around her. Her mind’s eye saw various things, I had various intentions. My intentions were good, and she liked it-

It seems presumptuous to call it a “healing”. She had told me of things in her life, physical and psycho-spiritual, and to imagine that I-

It is not I who do it, it is We, with the Ocean of Light who is Consent and Love. And if I expect all M’s issues to just end, and for her to be Happy, then almost every session I do will be a “failure”. So- I want a Shift, and perhaps a shift which makes progress over coming days and weeks. That is not my responsibility. I do my part.

M sat down, and I did a Healing.