Someone I know faced death. He is alright, but his house may be demolished. Continue reading
In November 2021, I stepped into my grace. Is it possible to state this in a way people will understand? Mine is a project of self-liberation: can I express my insights in order to liberate others? Or, I cannot liberate anyone, but I might help them to see some truth, so that they liberate themselves?
It’s a poetic metaphor- “I stepped into my grace”. I have begun to write about this. I have spoken about it, and on Wednesday night someone rhapsodised her gratitude to me, quoting that phrase. She had heard me at a moment when it really spoke to her. I felt slight embarrassment, but also great joy which continues today.
Poetry works. It spoke to her. It might only speak to a few people in the same way. I expanded the image-
Reading the Tao Te Ching over the last twenty years, it has seemed that I understood the poetry when I had already learned the spiritual lesson. Now, from experience I have an idea of what “flow like water” might mean, which expands as I grow into it. So rereading different English versions I might see more in them, and come closer to living like that.
Rumi (translated by Michael Burch)- “Your task is not to build love, but to bring down all the barriers you built against it”- speaks to me. I am taking down the barriers.
I hoped I might write a book one day, a spiritual autobiography saying how I had won my freedom, if I ever was successful in life, in the hope that it might speak to people and help them win freedom too. I would describe my journey to find God in me, and what God was.
My own journey does not fit everyone. Human spiritual maturity requires us to bring what is unconscious to consciousness. Different people are conscious of different things, and have different blind spots. I feel my trauma and continuing recovery is relevant to people as my trauma is not unique, but not everyone is traumatised in the same way. There is that of God in everyone, but it may be very different in each.
I can get something from Isaiah’s servant songs. For example, Isaiah 52:13-53:12. My God within seemed acquainted with infirmity and held of no account. It was an “offering for sin” in that my wild free femininity appalled and frightened my mother, because her spirit had been crushed out of shape too by her society. The sin is the failure to accept human diversity. The offering is that diverse people are crushed. And now my God within begins to see light and find satisfaction.
I don’t know if the Songs’ authors had a similar experience to me. I take the words to bolster my understanding that I am on the right path. I look back at that path, and see echoes of Isaiah. What is on the path ahead I cannot know.
But there are lots of ways to seek wisdom. I recommend sitting in silence, in meditation, Buddhist worship or online Quaker worship. Many people value A Course in Miracles. I dabbled with it. I keep thinking I might return to it and never quite do.
Noticing what moves me to tears may help me see unconscious needs. In this radio programme, one sentence at 12.15-25 had me sobbing. “Tammy, meanwhile, feeling alienated from her televangelist peers, found herself identifying less with them than with the objects of their scorn.” For me it encapsulates why people loathe Christianity, yet I love it. Jesus identifies with the oppressed, and the gospels are full of calls for us to do the same. So far as I liberate God within me, I see its oppression, and identify with it.
My judging it stops me seeing God in me. God speaks, and I say, that cannot be God. It is too weak and silly. Yet I am sure that it was. Gosh, that was 2015. This is going so much slower than I would have wished. I continue to be liberated, and pray that we all may be.
I’ve embraced spiritualism. Rather than focusing on a particular way of life or religion; I prefer to embrace aspects that bring peace and harmony to my Being.
It is my hope that through my writing Readers will discover peace and harmony within their own Being, discover the now and what they value in the present moment.
I wonder what she means by embracing spiritualism: I thought it meant the religious practice of contacting the dead. Google says spiritualism is also a philosophical concept, that the spirit exists as distinct from matter, or that spirit is the only reality. Wikipedia confirms that: spiritualism is the notion, shared by a wide variety of systems of thought, that there is an immaterial reality that cannot be perceived by the senses. Then how do we perceive it? The perception is in my heart, an emotional response, or a sudden conviction- it feels like a communication.
Perhaps she means Spirituality, an openness to such communications. It is openness to reality. I was going to write what Spirituality is not, but then I am not sure it is opposed to anything. Opposed, perhaps, to addictive escapes, such as drugs, overeating, alcohol, cutting, ways of shutting off feelings which are not Peace or oblivion-
but no, those are tools, unless you vanish into them totally so that the escape is all you have. The human seeks respite from the hard work of processing reality, then plunges back into it. Or, in Cutting, relief comes from physically manifesting feelings too painful to access in any other way. (I am attempting to empathise, I have not done it myself, or felt any desire to.)
So I imagine a human being, suddenly becoming conscious, like being introduced to a warm swimming pool by loving hands, or chucked into a cold ocean to struggle even to breathe, and-
What would “harmony” mean? When I started on my Journey of Conscious Spiritual Growth, I wanted to avoid painful feelings like anger and fear. I still do, though not by denying or suppressing them. I want to want to not seek to avoid those painful feelings by avoiding situations which evoke them, though I am not there yet, I am still hiding away. I see intellectually that the feeling is not bad in itself, and that some situations evoking it are worth persisting in
though I was stressed. I was angry and afraid and stressed, and unable to process the stress anger fear before further stressors hit me. Of course I wanted to stop feeling anger and fear.
Perhaps I was projecting onto Natasha my- I was going to say wrong and immature desire. Of course you can’t avoid anger and fear, and the harmony would be dull without it, like harmonising only with triad chords not sevenths and ninths. I have no reason to suppose her concept of harmony lacks richness like that. Mine was not wrong, only incohate and perhaps immature. I want not to be overwhelmed by anger and fear. I want to be able to accept and process them.
Dear Natasha, I was irritated. Two “awards” in two days. These things are chain letters. So I set out to attack your understanding, and found it was only a pedantic attack on two letters at the end of a word. “It was unbearable! It will be unbearable again!”- Yes, the Now is a good way of counteracting that.
You asked, Who inspires you? Too many people to count or name, famous and unknown.
If you could have dinner with anyone, who would they be? What meal would you serve them? What is one question would you ask that person? I would not be doing the cooking. People who might be fascinating, from the past or present, might object to being brought to eat with me, and might clam up or show only an uninterested and affronted public persona- so my answer is, anyone who would open up to me so that we could come to know each other; and then, anyone, famous or unknown, would do.
You asked, Do you have a party trick that is unique to you, and you alone? Yes.
She took this photograph, which I quite like:
Spiritual growth is important to me, and my sources are eclectic, including New Age, Buddhism, Christianity, a bit of psychology. How does the world work? What are human beings like? Who am I, and how may I flourish? These questions matter to everyone. You might see them as matters of maturity, or the wisdom of middle age, and perhaps I see them as “spiritual” because of accidents of upbringing and personality.
I wanted spiritual growth, and became aware that I wanted it to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions such as anger and fear. Now I know that fleeing my fear or seeking to suppress it is the problem, and I learn to accept and feel the fear. Fighting it only empowers it. My friend Yvonne Spence shared Robert Masters‘ post on this: “Spiritual bypassing” is an attempt to use spirituality to avoid feeling. The spiritual work is difficult: far easier to lie to yourself you have done it already.
Spiritual bypassing is a very persistent shadow of spirituality, manifesting in many ways, often without being acknowledged as such. Aspects of spiritual bypassing include exaggerated detachment, emotional numbing and repression, overemphasis on the positive, anger-phobia, blind or overly tolerant compassion, weak or too porous boundaries, lopsided development (cognitive intelligence often being far ahead of emotional and moral intelligence), debilitating judgment about one’s negativity or shadow elements, devaluation of the personal relative to the spiritual, and delusions of having arrived at a higher level of being.
I’ve been there. I am not sure it is entirely delusional, or that my spiritual growth has gone nowhere. I feel wiser than I was, and feel that what I saw as growth was a foundation for where I am now. I imagined that all I needed to do to learn a spiritual lesson was to see that it was necessary, without the work to put it into practice. This may be why I felt all spiritual at weekends away with other seekers, seeming to see much better than when in what we all call “The real world”. But I did see more clearly, and I put the lessons into practice eventually.
Yvonne also found Lissa Rankin. She is a medical doctor whose spiritual growth book is “a journey from the head to the heart and a prescription for finding your life’s purpose.” I found her post repellant, and wanted to work out why. “How to fully feel what hurts without going insane”- what a goal!
So I was repelled, and over the next few hours came up with reasons why that might be so. She is the queen of the cool kids, and advises whom they should no longer admit to their circles- energy vampires, pessimists, and people stuck in their victim story; co-dependents; all who criticize, belittle, shame you, or even attack you for being “needy”; even someone [who] is always meeting your needs but you’re never meeting theirs. Quite a list. “Those who can’t ask for help commit suicide,” she says, and I wonder if this is sweeping condemnation of all suicides. I think it is more complex than that; I wanted to die because I did not feel worthy of life.
Jesus came to mind. “A smouldering wick he will not quench, and a bruised reed he will not break”. I wonder if she has, in moving from head to heart, cast out so many friends. I tend to feel friendships are more complex than that.
Friendships serve a purpose. Possibly Lissa had a great purge of all the energy vampires, etc., and replaced them all with “healthy people”, who appreciate the intimacy that comes with the vulnerability of seeking support. My friends are like me, in the world, with needs, vulnerabilities, strengths and blind spots. All are healthy in a way. Possibly a friendship meets a need in me. I will grow out of co-dependency eventually. Possibly, a friend is the best I can get. Lissa also is clear about the need for good boundaries, yet we spiritual, emotional, intuitive, empathetic types can have difficulty with boundaries. Boundaries and winnowing your friends seems like belt and braces to me. She is assuming my needs are the same as hers.
Her tips jar, too. “Come into right relationship with uncertainty”. Yeah. Wonderful. How? If I don’t know something, there may be ways to find out. “The wisdom to know the difference”- that line of the serenity prayer is too glib. I come to know the difference between what I can change and what I can’t after a lot of trial and error, and may have a period of mourning before finding grudging serenity. Right now, I recognise the importance of being able to bear uncertainty. It is continual practice.
I am sure her book sells well, and her fans love her: “Oh, Lissa…. oh, oh, Sis-Star Lissa….. ” gushes Precious. If only it were so easy as reading her tips, chucking out all the Bad People from your life, and Living Spiritually. It is a tall order. Far easier to lie to yourself that you have done that, that this friend who has annoyed you is an “energy vampire” so a Bad Person, and you are now Spiritual. That is the “spiritual bypassing” Lissa warns of.
Ah. What is touching a nerve in me? Certainly the feeling of being excluded: I can never read about “people to excise from your life” without fearing it means me. There is a lot of good sense here. Pure envy: I want to write spiritual stuff for spiritual people, especially if I can get paid for it. But I want to build community, where all are included.
That’s enough Olga Boznanska portraits, I think. These five knowing, watchful women. They are moving subtly through a hard world, and I wish them well, but do not like them much.
Life is difficult. So I read in The Road Less Travelled, around the late 1990s when I started being conscious of spiritual growth. Yeah, yeah, I thought. And now, my latest blistering insight:
Life is difficult.
Well. And, life is easy. Life is OK. Life is manageable.
A barrier to spiritual growth is that I imagine what I will look like, after it. I think of spiritual growth as a way to become Perfect me, who has no problem doing what I ought to do, or never feels unpleasant emotions, or has mastered the gifts The Serenity Prayer asks for.
Or, I imagine that it is growth towards a particular way of being rather than life-lessons, which may appear paradoxical or contradictory, which I may forget and need to re-learn again and again. So, life is difficult; and life is easy. Right now, I don’t have to go outside my front door if I don’t want to. I can spend as much time writing on my blog as I like- with minimal revision, just changing the most poorly expressed bits, and no judgment by editors.
I feel I ought to want more. I am not motivated to seek more- to write for publication, to seek stage time, to apply for a job, even to read an improving book- because I do not see it as improving my situation. Old immature understandings poisoned by Perfect me get in the way: I should get to a place instantly, the effort should not be overwhelming, I should see exactly where I will be. What step do I want to take today? No idea. I would rather watch silly telly.
I don’t know where to go from this. Perhaps someone really will rescue me. Perhaps I will see something I feel I can do, and go for it. I do, after all. I have been AM clerk. At the moment, though, enjoying where I am- with time to watch TV, whatever- can’t be that bad.
What do I want? Not this! I want to want more than this! I want to build something! Well, if the road to fulfilment is what I want, then right now this is what I want. Stop wanting things because I was told to.
I have spent five hours today with six other people wrestling with what it means to be human. It has been hard work, trying to comprehend others’ views, or explain my own. Sabina quoted with approval Gospel of Thomas “logion 50”: “If they ask you, ‘What is the sign of your father within you?’ say to them, ‘It is movement and repose.'” One did not understand that at all. I chimed in, “It is like in the Tao, acting without intending, the perfect action for the moment feels like stillness”, and I am not sure it got through.
One of us believes in stages of spiritual growth. Despite his insistence that there is no hierarchy, and that people stay in the stage appropriate for them, he clearly sees these things as movement forward. Consider: Recognise the humanity of all people, including those who break society’s conventions or its laws. To me, recognising no out group or enemy or people not entitled to my fellow-feeling is a matter of evolution. Such attitudes enable human beings to live together in ever larger and more diverse groups. They inoculate me against Donald Trump’s poison; some want a wall against Mexico, and are delighted by his lie that he could produce one.
By contrast, my culturally feminine desire for reconciliation is a character trait, and competitiveness is equally valuable: society needs both. Eileen used to work for Relate, including training counsellors, most of whom were female. The men had a completely different way of thinking and, she said, it seemed they were teaching the men to think like women.
And while I seek forgiveness. “What do you want to do with that Christmas card?” I want to put it on my bookshelf, and every time I look at it think of the beauty, wonder and pain of that seven year relationship, celebrate its existence, mourn its passing. We each betrayed the other repeatedly. I want to think how wonderful H was and is. It’s not “Forgiveness” but reconciliation again. Though as a tactic for moving on and having confidence for continued action, blame, resentment and celebration of self might be just as useful.
I don’t need control. The group is wiser than the individual. One believes himself wiser than the group, and finds proof in that he is an Innovator, whose ideas are taken up by others years or decades later. He passionately desires control.
One of us, as part of his work, sometimes has to restrain people. It is an act of violence. It always creates more problems than it solves, he says.
One of us sees self as a bad person, because of the angry internal monologue. Oh, I so desire to fix you! I told of my own anger, and how accepting it takes away its capacity to hurt me. It does not make me bad. I see the person hurting and so want them not to. They is not a bad person!
Is/Ought; we reconcile these through religion, thinks D; Jesus and the Buddha reconcile them most perfectly. What is, is, thinks S. Eileen suggests I come to the healing meeting.
-I must come to a healing meeting some time.
-Oh, that word again. “Must.” All your targets!
That made me break down, finally. Without my targets, I am like a puddle on the floor! And I dry up, and people walk mud into me!
A puddle. That’s a new metaphor. My despising of myself runs deep. She consoles me, I recover, her hybrid car moves off my parking space silently, the petrol motor only starting as it goes down the road. So beautiful! As is the Wendelstein 7X.
James wondered why any Christian ever might disagree with him. Fortunately, he has the answer: they are ensnared by the World, and have not allowed the Holy Spirit access to every area of their heart. When they do, they will think exactly as he does, and leave behind the things he disagrees with- which are “The World’s System”.
This absolves James from thinking. Anyone who disagrees with him is simply less spiritually mature than he. When you have had the same inestimable blessings James has had, you will think just like him, and if you do not, and go to Hell- well, the ways of God are strange.
Whereas, we do not all follow the same path of spiritual maturing, but learn different lessons at different times.
One has only so much head-space, and surely it is better to devote it to learning what is Right, what I Believe, than to listening to wrong people. This short-cut absolves you from ever having to refute them. Their ideas are not even wrong in an interesting way, so should not detain us.
I give some attention to any opinion. Possibly, it will increase my understanding. I might be happier with more confidence in my own opinion. There are many good choices: like the supermarket cereals aisle, there might be a best cereal but there are many which are good enough; with so many things one can be wrong, but not wrong enough to hurt. I am giving more attention to attitudes, ways of being: some people with ways of being with others, or in the world, radically different from mine, seem effective or happy and I might learn from them. Though some are merely an awful warning.
Like James, I experience God as changing me, bringing me to health. The changes are unimaginable beforehand, sometimes inexplicable after. It is one reason why I am religious not atheist: I do not proceed by rational argument, but sometimes against what had seemed rational.
I may not have achieved enlightenment half an hour ago, but right now it feels like it.
What will I do today? There is the Experiment with Light workshop at the Quaker meeting. Do I really want to go? Should I cycle? Well, I may have damaged my tendon; and I have had a cold. I could get the bus. These are the options. What else would I do? I would do my washing and watch telly.
I wanted to watch Breaking Bad this morning, currently broadcast on Freeview 31, it was ep. 5/7. So I did, over breakfast, and watched Mike die with the most wonderful last words.
Do I want to go to Experiment with Light? A day with the Quakers. H might be there. Just possibly, it is unlikely. Do I really want to spend time with these people?
I want to cycle, and I have had pains in the back of my ankle. I put my seat up so that I would cycle on the ball of my foot rather than my instep, so that I would use my calves, which is far better technique, so that might strain my tendon just as it has been painful.
And that was it. I realised.
I want to be someone else.
I want to be that person- who is always independent, who would cycle to Swanston without difficulty, who would then enjoy the Quaker day. I want to be the person I ought to be. I want to be cleverer. I want to enjoy the things I ought to want to do.
I don’t know where I got that person from.
I want to get the bus to the Quaker meeting. I really want to go now, I want to be in the place where I see reality more clearly. I shower, swearing fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck throughout-
that speech therapist, would not see me unless I asked my GP to see her again, ridiculed my appearance- shirt buttoned up to the neck??? Who dresses like that??? challenged me
WHAT DO YOU WANT????
and I didn’t know and I have not known since and I had Ideas- I want to hide, I want to be safe, I want to survive-
and now I have worked it out. I want to be someone else.
Okayyy- well, you can’t. You have tried that. It hasn’t worked.
Half an hour later I feel happy-
Actually there isn’t a 9.05 bus. Who knew? There is a bus at five past every other hour until it stops. I thought one of the buses wasn’t running. I checked the timetable (why check it, you know it already-
I feel exalted. I am just off to that Quaker thing. So much about my life makes sense now. Who knows what I might do?
I had a heart-felt sensation that I was beautiful. I felt suffused with Love. Always I want to have finished this spiritual growth lark. Then everything will be Well! So, is that it? And how normal is it to despise yourself, anyway?
Pretty normal. A friend told me how her husband, even after moving in with another woman, still treated her like a servant. It is amazing what you can get used to. Battered wives show great courage in escaping, as often their self-respect has been beaten out of them.
I block things out of conscious perception when they are too painful for me to acknowledge. These include my own characteristics about which I have been Shamed. Even though I have come to accept my femininity, my blocks are continually ready to leap up again, the paths through my neurons and dendrites are so well worn. It feels vulnerable to be open to noticing my own reactions, and the world around me, to inhabit the presence, mindfulness, awareness which I seek.
In my post Self-Love three and a half years ago, I identified self-love as the survival instinct, and said I had to let go the blocks. I have been doing that all the succeeding time.
I feel continually inadequate. Others think me intelligent, and I curse myself making connections so late.
I wish I had more energy. I feel so weak. As I write it is noon, and I should be at a meeting. I should have got the bus an hour ago, and I am not dressed yet. I would rather work this out, here, now. Typing gives me some understanding and some relief.
I have had utter contempt for myself, and curing that has taken all my intelligence, courage, and energy. I am closer to recovery than ever before. That contempt for myself has been my burden, and when I stagger under it, that becomes evidence to justify the contempt.
I want to spend time with H. I find her fascinating. We had discussed a trip to London together, and she wants to put it off. Again.
-You’re disappointed, she said. Yes. She noticed: because I am, very much; yet I did not, because I am hurt, and I suppress hurt below consciousness.
I am Abigail, and that is alright. I have borne my burden, swum against the current, cycled into the wind. I notice the burden, now: it seemed just normal, merely what was true. I see the characteristics to which my contempt blinded me, and value them. Awareness and awakening feels possible.
The female self who always controlled me though I denied her speaks. I feel sexy and flirtatious, capable of good and harm. The culture tells us it is not OK to be natural, even if you are cis and het. Humans can be with our feelings in the moment.
I said, we suppress them so we can live in cities. Just imagine the Tube!
-When an antelope escapes the lion, it shakes for an hour before rejoining the herd. Imagine someone screaming on the Tube, and others say, “Yeah, man, I feel you.”
In meditation, breathe a smile into your chakras, or into any part feeling pain or numbness. Or, breathe sexual energy. Check over your body, for any part which feels blocked, strong, numb or different, and allow that to dissolve. At any time notice you are breathing: it creates presence and awareness.
We whine our suffering to manipulate attention rather than state our needs honestly and ask for care. Jamie suggests ways, which I do not recognise: perhaps I do them without awareness. I realised I refused compliments, and practised accepting them. When I minimise and make a joke of suffering- oh, it wasn’t that bad- I am doing it to feel better myself, rather than seeking assistance. I did like “feeling let down by others’ lack of telepathy”.
Interview the Survivor, who writes with her right hand.
I have always been here. I am love and vivacity, my best self, happy.
What support do you need to express your superpowers as a healing force? Do not fear or resist. Welcome me and I will do the rest. Relax into authenticity, presence and awareness, where I am, always. Love and appreciate me. Accept and feel Joy and all feelings.
How shall I call upon you? Be aware of breath. Touch something to be aware of its texture.
How and where can I give these gifts to myself and others? Meeting Heather-bee; YM, writing, at the bus stop, in whatever comes.
How do you want to? On stage or film, in writing and meditation.
What superpowers? Integrity, love, presence, sensitivity, generosity, appreciation of beauty, delight, joy, creativity, acceptance, connectedness, wonder, lusciousness, sweetness, resilience, femininity, beauty, Sexiness, truthfulness, respect, energy, softness.
What excites you when you stop fearing and running? What energises you? But the time is over. I must get back to this.
Meeting these four characters this weekend- the inner critic, the shamed self, the innocent victim and the wounded superhero- I am inspired to write from that perspective. Now, Tuesday, I have written five blog posts from it.