Monday, February 23, 2009

Ah, to be a hypocrite

Over the last couple months, I have been dealing with a family move and one or two family emergencies. That stuff is still ongoing. Luckily today, I have some time to write, and I want a short interlude from the Integral stuff for now.

Life is really your greatest teacher. You may or may not have a person guiding you spiritually in life, but you always have Life to teach you, for as long as, well, you're alive.

Self-examination is one way of gleaning lessons from Life. Idries Shah and other famous sufis often talk about self-examination of behavior, or even simply being able to examine yourself. Most people are not capable of stepping back and looking at their own behavior on deep levels. Consequently, there are a lot of "hypocrites" out there. Idries Shah often used that word in his writings to describe people who are out of touch with their own behavior and wind up doing the very things that they preach against. Pretty much everyone falls into that category at some point or another, more often than not.

Hell, I've done it.

If you look around and do some digging on the Internet, you can find all kinds of people who believe in "manifestation" or "magic", or "magick", however you like to spell it. There are many other terms to cover the same thing, even the term "prayer" is used often. The underlying basis of all these things is changing your life to be something other than what it is right now. At a deep level, they are all exactly the same things with exactly the same arrays of mechanisms.

Of course, change is not always such a bad thing. You have a right to try to change your situation if you do not like the way it is going. However, sometimes it is easy to forget that there is an overarching Reality that does not change. This Reality filters down through the levels of existence and has a way of communicating things to us. Sometimes, the communication is, "Tough crap, buddy. You ain't changing this."

My attitude has generally been to trust in Reality and let it do whatever it does. Many years ago, I gave up all esoteric attempts to fiddle with Reality. I saw no point to it. Play the cards you are dealt and shut up. If you work hard and be smart, you increase your odds of having an "easy" life, but the ease of life is more your perception than anything else, so work on that perception instead, if you feel like working on something.

That right there, folks, is some hypocrisy. Good example.

Years ago I gave up trying to change the world through esoteric means, but I never gave up trying to change it through conventional means, which is even worse! Trying to change Reality even when it says, "No way, buddy" is a useless exercise. That's true whether you do it by magic, prayer, or good ole fashioned hard labor. At times when Reality will not allow you to change it, the point is to accept what IS.

When the time comes to get up off your accepting ass and move, Reality will let you know. Have no fear in that, but until that time, the best thing to do is to hang out in the Present and chill, or not chill, as the case may be in a hard situation. Sometimes, the best solution to a problem is to do nothing but wait. Other times, waiting will get you killed. The trick to telling the difference is to have some insight into what the universe is trying to tell you.

It all boils down to self-observation. Lots of lessons to be learned in that exercise.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Lurking shadows

When the Shadow is ignored, it becomes insistent about popping up in your life. If you do not acknowledge that you do indeed think and feel some "awful" things sometimes, those thoughts will show themselves in subtle ways. You might lose your temper when someone does something to you that seems petty or inconsequential. You might sabotage your own business deals for seemingly no reason. Every person has a hundred things that he or she does to mess things up sometimes, and later these people kick themselves for it. Ever have that experience?

For a while, I have been trying to figure out an answer to one of my questions I posted a while back. The question was: Which is correct? Should we actively do Inner Self work and try to clear out our emotional baggage, like my former teacher, Draja Mickaharic, says? Or should we not worry about that at all and simply become aware of our baggage and give it the space to exist in the light of Consciousness, like Eckhart Tolle says?

After exploring some of this material on Integral Philosophy, I think the answer is both.

If we only take Eckhart's approach, we will certainly become more aware, but our baggage will still be there. In the grand scheme of things, it certainly does not matter whether it is there or not, however, Ken Wilber's teachings stress that we are not just Consciousness, we are all things on all levels. That means we are our baggage too. So from that perspective, by doing Shadow work or Inner Self work or whatever you want to call it, we are in a way lubricating our path towards becoming more aware.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Mucking things up with your Shadow

In Psychology research there is a lot of study on the concept of the "Shadow Personality" or Shadow.

A quick glance at the Internet reveals Jung's definition: "According to Carl Jung, the shadow is that part of the personality one chooses not to see. Usually of a vulgar, shameful, or corrupt nature, the shadow is comprised of whatever one cannot uphold in one’s idea of oneself. Not being integrated or even acknowledged by conscious mind, the shadow sits and waits in the unconscious."

Ken Wilber's Integral Philosophy borrows heavily from this concept.

Explaining this in my own words, I would say that the Shadow is a subset of your Inner Self, a piece of it. It is a part of your emotional makeup that you generally do not want to deal with, but it is there nonetheless.

Ever have an "evil thought" about someone? Ever wish someone ill? Ever say to yourself, "If I wasn't such a nice person, I would...."?

Those are pieces of your Shadow breaking through. Ken Wilber's work says that in addition to doing all of these exercises to increase your access to States, and to move up the Stages, you also have to work on integrating your Shadow. That is to say, you have to learn to contact and accept your Shadow as a part of yourself.

Keep in mind, that is not to say that you have to conquer or kill the Shadow, or even solve its problems. All you have to do is face it. Integrate it. Make it a known part of yourself. Become aware of it.

Interestingly, if you do that, the Shadow's influence and tendencies to pop up at inopportune times diminishes.

Not working on your Shadow can present problems. There are huge numbers of "spiritual" people that meditate for hours per day, practice compassion for human beings, give to charity, and then go home and beat their kids. These people have great access to all kinds of States, and they can even operate at high Stages, but they are assholes nonetheless. Why? Their Shadows still have not been integrated.

More on this later....