Friday, 31 July 2009

Save Yourself!

One rather predominant experience in my personal life this year has been that of opening up to various people only to get shunned and rejected. I've tried to carry this phenomenon graciously and see what it has to teach me. Oh, I'm not going to claim that my heart is not bleeding, but one has to get on with life and keep the flame of hope alive. One thing I discovered was that despite my independent allure and desire to be free from the dependency of other people, a part of me was secretely wishing that someone would "save" me just a little. That's because, on the one hand I miss company and on the other, I am at the end of my rope concerning a lot of my life's issues. I am cornered in many ways and need to break free, but have not found a door as yet.

This is just a quick outline of some fundamental spiritual issues, but I hope it still makes some sense. The idea of needing to be saved is very potent in our world. If you take a look at Christianity, one of the main dogmas is the idea that Christ is your saviour. As I see it, it's just a big misunderstanding supported by religious authorities who wished to gain more power over lay people. If one were to understand Christ's talk about being the way towards liberation in a more symbolic way, the dualistic concept of Christ and God being somehow separated from the rest of humanity might disappear. Our reality appears dualistic, and our minds are programmed to think in terms of contrasts and comparisons in order to make sense of it. However, it's not impossible to transcend this habit and start to embrace contradictions. If you practice by sometimes not choosing camps but looking at things from opposite perspectives as well, you will probably find that they are also true. If truth is fundamentally speaking relative, then the idea of a basic (ontological) state of ONENESS also looks more plausible. My point is, Christ is not going to save you, but you will save yourself through your own "Christ consciousness", the aspect of yourself that is in touch with the things that Christ represented. I'm sorry if anyone finds this blasphemeous, but this is how I and many others see it.

Notice how the movie industry dwells on the concept of people saving each other. The most obvious scenario is the one in which people are in a tough spot but are then being saved by someone who enters their life, offering love and sometimes also material comfort. I recently saw "Nights in Rodante" with Diane Lane and Richard Gere, and at the end Diane even says that the two of them saved each other through their love. All this looks great on the outside, but consider the fact that by allowing someone to save you you're giving away your power! In fact, you put yourself at the mercy of other people when you entertain this sort of fantasy!

I personally don't have a problem with the understanding of paradoxes as a key to a broader and deeper understanding of reality, but I also realize that in a paradoxical sort of way you can't just eliminate the mind's functions. For instance, being judgmental ("this is good, that is bad") is a way of making sense of reality and creating interesting and fruitful thoughts. Thoughts can be dull and automatic, or they can be creative. The creative ones bring us further on our path and help us develop as human beings. Either way, these processes are always based in judgment. You might also notice, that if you start judging your judgmental thoughts, they will only become more persistant. So in the end all we can do is find an accepting and maybe even loving attitude towards this state of affairs. It's true that the solution to our fundamental problems of the mind may not be found through the mind itself, however creative thinking is a fantastic tool on the road to self-discovery, discernment and a deep sense of self-satisfaction!

In my own process, I'm trying to lay out all the ways in which I've felt rejected in my life. It turns out to be quite a persistant pattern that even includes the feeling of being rejected by this country (I'm a social reject). Going back a couple of generations in order to see what pattern has been inherited from the past, it's clear that my mother was never granted a feeling of being welcomed to the world and given all the love and material comforts that she deserved. The important thing here is that she was at the mercy of other people who did not grant her the things that they should and could have given her so that she would have grown up to be a strong and succesful individual. I remember having very distinct feelings of anger at being at my mother's mercy when I was a child. From that time onward the pattern has perpetuated itself. I'm always at the mercy of someone else's benevolence. This is a truly chilling discovery!

Because the feeling of being dependent on others is so forceful, it's natural that it turns into a secret wish to be saved in some way or another. This is the fallacy that I wish people would wake up to. I'm not sure how to fix this state of affairs, but taking back one's power seems crucial. It can be a very difficult and complex process if you're entangled in various constellations that tie you down and prevent you from just getting up and leaving. But as always, there has to be a way!

I realize my challenge is a very deep and crucial one and I have reason to believe that I will eventually figure it out. Profound issues don't necessarily disappear in the blink of an eye; they often take time to be resolved. That is, it seems like a long time from our perspective, but in relation to the rest of existance (from a higher perspective, so to speak) it's not a long time at all.
Meanwhile, there's a great deal of emotional turmoil inside. Many feelings I've made great efforts to transmute and have felt partly succesful in doing so. Because I have had to learn about emotions very late in life, it's been all the more intense. Though at times I can see that things have advanced, all the experiences of being rejected and feeling suppressed by people I involuntarily have to depend on have caused a great deal of anxiety. I'm afraid I might be getting asthma because I can't breathe properly. I also have increasing problems eating and my stomach is quite upset. I hope and believe all this will go away eventually but I truly don't see a way of speeding up the process (the sensations are very compelling). I have only so much capacity to deal with things.

Another aspect of the rejection theme is that we may not be on the same level of spiritual maturity as people that we approach or that initially feel attracted to us. I do realize, that those who have not been willing to join me in my life right now were not of the same frequency as myself and might never have been able to "catch up". Of course, I approached them because I liked them and felt something for them (I opened my heart at least partly), but despite their good hearts there were major discrepancies on the level of spiritual and psychological insight. I'm not saying they may not have been more accomplished than myself as well, but my experience has been that of trying to lower my expectations of others. My complexity, depth and ability to use my own brain has then scared people away. I also have had trouble feeling trust so maybe I don't appear so accessible. I no longer want to settle for half-hearted relationships that don't feel satisfying, and so the signals I'm sending out might be daunting. I keep wishing that they'd give me a chance, while I'm not sure I am able to give them a chance (in other words, a catch 22 that shows how futile looking for love on the outside really is)!

The sense of not being able to occupy the same space as others has increased. At the same time I'm not quite ready yet to sit there on my own with a sense of "deep self-satisfaction" and send out unconditional love to everyone. In any case, other people's example may not be mine at all. I read Karen Bishop's latest newsletter (granted, I have trouble reading as I need new glasses and that has posed some more challenges in my life right now). I was quite baffled at what she says - according to her, the cream of the spiritual "elite" will ascend inspite of the fact that other human beings have not been able to raise their energy levels as expected (I could have told her it might be impossible, haha...). She's the only channeller or spiritual counsellor that has aroused some of my curiousity, so I've followed her postings about the global mindshift. However, I wonder who she's really writing for, because surely the people who are way evolved and ready to "ascend" don't really need her information? So... people on "the lower rungs" are obivously not reading her stuff and that leaves us with people in the middle. Those who are feeling jitterish and anxious right now just like myself. But are they eligable for the "new space" she's talking about? I feel like I'm really dangling somewhere inbetween, very willing indeed to move forward but not sure I'm supposed to be among the cream at the top (my soul may have other plans for me, so to speak). I feel reasonably patient with my own process and don't have an agenda in mind. Still... not knowing what to expect is quite nerve wrecking. Not knowing what to believe when you read such data is bad as well!

The point is, however, to remove oneself from the sphere of other people's power and authority. Even some innocent looking spiritual writings can be very compelling and cause more insecurity about who one is or is supposed to be. If you read things such as the newsletter I mentioned then you may be giving your power away. Well, even reading this may give your power away. But then I'm really hoping to inspire people to think for themselves. There is no need to believe everything I say! I may be saying that only you can save yourself, but it's really only my opinion.

Artwork: "Who will get the Rose?", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2008

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

A Plea to the Public

It's funny that people think the fact that personal information is public on the internet somehow justifies attacking or commenting in mean ways. Well, it would be funny if it wasn't stressful. I know that most people have some kind of sense of common courtesy and either turn away from things that don't appeal to them, or leave respectful comments that carry no negative energy. However, a number of recent incidents lead me to try and remind the ones who don't belong to this category that it is not okay to criticize strangers on the net when there is no obvious desire from the other party to engage in such interactions. There is something called unsolicited advice. I implore people to consider if they would do so in real life, and what the consequences of that might be. I'm sorry to see that many people lack some basic social skills, and hope that they will wake up and realize they have something to work on if they wish to co-exist with other human beings in a reasonably harmonious way. Surely we all (including myself, of course) need to ask ourselves; "Would I like to be treated this way and is this really about the other person?" rather than hit the send button in a fury or state of over-zealous self-enhancement.

Let me give a few examples of what I think of as intrusive behavior:
  • There are lots of people, especially young ones, who ask me to be their friend on blogcatalog. The majority only wish to promote their own blogs and often try to strike deals such as "if you'll comment on my blog I will comment on yours". Their blogs are seldom within my sphere of interest and so I really do NOT have the time or interest to engage in meaningless exchanges of comments. Cricket or tips about how to make money on the internet truly do not interest me, and it should be quite obvious just by glancing at my blog and its theme. All this bargaining for attention is tacky, takes up my valuable time and leaves me drained of energy.
  • Some people take a look at my blog and wish to convert me to their beliefs. I'm sorry they feel that I'm on the wrong track. As it is, I really have no interest in islam or reading the Q'uran, just as I have no leaning towards Catholicism or Wicca. I can assure you that I was in ample opportunity to dig deeper into these if I had wished to while studying comparative religions at the university. I think it should be quite obvious that I have a clear spiritual line of thinking and am not intending to change it. And even if this is not clear to anyone else, those who are serious about the pillar stones of their religion might see that it's not in spiritual integrity to attack others because of their faith. Please take a step backwards and reconsider. Are you really changing the world by doing that? What has happened to the notorious religious reformers and their victims during the course of history? I have specifically stated that I do not wish to be saved by anyone. I wish people who visit my blog would actually read it from end to end before jumping to conclusions. And even then... well this is not really the perfect mirror of my reality, is it? Does anyone really think it is?!
  • There are people who think that what they understand from what they read is the truth as intended by the author. Well, perception is a key in the understanding of life, and even though I am not the one to say that subjective truth is the only truth I do feel it has a place in this world. But even if someone doesn't believe this to be true, I'd suggest that they consult their basic moral values and see if bashing others on the internet is really a proper thing to do. It's interesting how this tends to happen among people who come from democratic republics who believe in the freedom of speech. I know, because I can more or less tell where someone is from even though their comment is "anonymous". Yeah, anonymous...
  • Posting anonymous comments about the faults with my website is low. This morning I received this line: "remove the music, it's intrusive". Wow. It was so nice waking up to this, especially as it was so short and crisp, laconic, without any social fuss such as "If you don't mind me saying, I think that...". Someone must have felt about it very deeply, truly enjoying my artwork but hating the sound (which granted, is not my own). Well... my site is not really an online exhibition, but an introduction to my stuff. As it is, I'm not adverse to feedback but do appreciate a respectful approach. I know it's hard to conceive but these are my private spaces and you should feel honored to be allowed in. Thank you.
I'm sure that some folks out there don't care that others have a lot on their plate. In fact, it might be really exciting to pressure those who have a lot to deal with and see if they crack. Trouble is, there is no telling what is really going on behind the scene. I'd say, please don't even speculate. Be nice.

Artwork: "On Someone Else's Wall", photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Dissolving the Ego

I won't talk about this at great length because I think people can get a lot of detailed information elsewhere. Personally I'd recommend reading Ken Wilber's books on integral psychology or becoming familiar with information that is available on videos. You might wish to look up or following the free online seminar If your orientation is more New Age, there are plenty of supportive sites that come up when you search for "lightwork" or "ascension". There are some interesting points about personality and psychopathology here, not least for individual work. Anyway, here are some of my viewpoints in the form of an outline of this issue as I understand it. I don't expect others to.

People are often a bit confused as to the idea of dissolving the ego even though it's something that is at the forefront of all spiritual movements. This is no wonder since it's hard for the mind to grasp such profound and complex psychological truths. The integral approach is very clear on the fact that a person consists of many levels of reality and undergoes a natural and constant process of evolution. Only subconscious denial of the experiences we go through can be a hinderance. Of course, this approach would be of no significance unless one assumed that some form of reincarnation is a fact (if you don't believe this, there is no need to read further). The level of the ego simply represents one stage in this development, but apparently the hardest one to overcome. The ego is our sense of self as persona in the world, and it's implies a perception of the self as separate from everyone else. It's all about "me, myself and I". Altruism isn't really in place yet. On previous stages of evolution the personality is not clear; it's in the making. On its last evolutionary stop it comes into full bloom. Issues about identity become potent. At first the identification with external things such as material possessions or a job is automatic and constitutes the sense of self (in other words, one's identity equals various transient phenomena outside of oneself rather than who a person really is). As self-awareness increases as a result of evolution and introspection, a person starts to question automatic beliefs and not least, what the sense of self is based in. Seeking love outside of oneself is also a very important theme on this level, as the ego seeks confirmation by others on the one hand but connection and deep sentiments on the other. Some form of psychotherapy might be necessary in order to work out various denied aspects of one's identity in order to rectify all the things that have gone wrong. This is hard work and many people would rather avoid it. However it's necessary to do it so as to stop repeating subconscious psychopathological patterns.

The inner work of healing the self is the same as solidifying the ego. It's very important that it becomes strong and healthy. This includes being able to draw personal boundaries and having the discernment to say no to people and experiences that are not beneficial to one's persona and its growth. However, if a person wishes to aspire to a more spiritual level (and according to this way of thinking people eventually will), they will have to transcend the level of the simple self or ego. This is where the psychological tools such as the inner witness, discernment and detachment become important in one's life. If you try to dissolve an ego that isn't quite in place, you will most likely start to suffer from mental health issues such as psychosis. This is something that can also happen as a result of drug abuse as it forces the mind to reorganize too fast and too soon.

I will give an analogy from my own world. Some people love to create abstract paintings. However, it's not really possible to do good abstractions of the perceived reality if you're not very good at copying the reality you see first. In other words, you need to be good at drawing and painting what you see before you start to dissect and alter your vision. A really meaningful abstraction is one that maintains the most important elements, albeit you can continue to abstract ad infinitum until the traces of our normal reality are gone. This is the process that the painter Piet Mondrian and the sculptor Constantin Brancusi explored back in the early 20th Century. Other forms of abstract art may be nice to look at but their intrinsic meaning is not the same if you get my drift; they are simplifications but not real abstracted abstractions. (I may add that photography tends to be a bit different since the process involves being able to see and capture what is already there, however work on the shots can imply abstraction). In a similar way, spiritual people who appear to have transcended their egoistic needs without actually having done so may have an allure about them but looking up to them is intrinsically meaningless. They are not icons to follow, though in an indirect way people can learn from them too. It's important to understand that negative experiences are also helpful on the journey towards greater self-realization. Via negativa has a way of shaking people in the form of wake up calls to the realization of various truths.

People who enter a spiritual path will thus be faced with the ego and its various pathologies. The most obvious problem is egotism, in other words an excessive need to feel one's trivial desires at the expense of other people or by way of excluding others from one's realm of existence. Isolating oneself from the unity that the collective represents may serve a purpose for a while, as a person strengthens their sense of self. In the long run it becomes a pathological stance though. When working with the psyche, the unhealthy bits need patching up first. Then various ego traps need to be identified. These are habitual attitudes and other programmed ways of dealing with reality that lead people astray. The longer they last, the more ingrained the patterns become and thus more difficult to change.

The deeper truth about the ego is that it almost seems like an entity that hovers above a person and convinces a person that the person equals their ego. Seeing and witnessing this is the first step. The reality of the ego is an illusion, but a potent one. The ego is a conglomerate of beliefs that a person has about themselves. Now a healthy ego is one that contains healthy beliefs about the self and its identity in relation to the world. While that's all fine and dandy, this "little self" eventually needs to be transcended so that the perception of who a person is will include the "greater Self". The ego doesn't represent the greater truth about who we are. Now most psychotherapies out there think that the work is done once a person has been restored to a healthy self, and so the spiritual dimension is excluded. Of course, many people entertain forms of spirituality or religious practice alongside with their journey to become more complete individuals. Though there is nothing wrong with this, recognizing the more hidden but deeper truths about the religions out there is a step towards an even completer integration of the individual. Obviously atheists and agnostics will debate this but from an integral, transpersonal or mystical/spiritual viewpoint there is more to be discovered about life.

There are loads of ego traps that need to be identified. All one's needs and desires need to be scrutinized. While they first need to be rectified and "patched", their usefulness to one's life need to be scrutinized as well. The deconstruction of the little self and its ultimate disintegration goes from there. It's not a quick process, and in fact, it shouldn't be. Neither is it chronological and straightforward. If it is, it probably isn't real. Jack Kornfield wrote a book with the telling title "After the Ecstasy, the Laundry". You may have spiritual experiences but the work with the subconscious conditioning still needs to be done. The disintegration of the ego is simply a process of realizing that the ego served a transitory purpose but that it is not the true Self. The true Self transcends the petty self. But all that remains to be seen! Nobody can tell you exactly what it's like to transcend, only hint at it. It's not something you can put into simple words. Also, nobody can convince you to follow such a path. It comes from within, or it doesn't, and one sign is a longing to feel a deeper connection with the reality that surrounds you, "all that is". An experience of oneness defeats the ego's "mission" to create a sense of a separate self, and this is were the real dissolution of the boundaries of self comes in. The ego doesn't really "die", since nothing about consciousness can be "killed". It's not a matter of changing any facts about your being, only a matter of changing the perception of reality.

Artwork: Digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009

Monday, 13 July 2009

Envy Rules the World...

I'm an unassuming kind of person. Unlike some people, I have not really learned how to play the social game very well. This means navigating the social scene with ease as well as knowing intuitively how to surpass the fundamental issues that people may display in the interaction with others. Many people are good at it because they don't have a need to go deep in their relationships and consequently don't miss the feeling of a really profound connection. My parents were never very good at socializing and I myself have always wanted to be true to myself. I can't pretend not to see all the things that are off in terms of social interaction in the world. This goes for issues within my own circles as well as ones I observe elsewhere. Like everyone else, I have wanted to have friends in order to share my life with them, but many a times I've been taken aback by the realization that relationships have ended because of envy. I admit that though I have lots of flaws, being envious is not one of them. Note that certain feelings of resentment is a different kind of problem. Anyway, understanding where envious people are coming from is causing me some headaches.

In my culture (Finnish), it takes time to get to know people and build trust. It's not easy to approach people and so you may not get to know many. It can be very lonely here. The American way is different. Because of many similarities as well as differences we are intrigued by that society. In the American culture, people often come onto you with a lot of zeal and enthusiasm (it may not be the right term here but I'm mostly talking about the way women approach me here), and it's easier to make shallow acquaintances. These can obviously lead to deeper ones if you're lucky. It can be very beneficial to social anxiety (this I have experienced myself), and may seem like a covetable thing. However, the cold showers are more frequent too. I often open up and share elaborate details about myself only to suddenly be treated with callousness and some lame finishing line... The fault that I made was to share too much about myself without having a basis of trust. I get carried away by the welcoming gestures and words only to find myself hitting a brick wall as I'm rushing towards the person in question. I don't want to waste time and develop shallow relationships and so I don't necessarily wish to change my ways. It's a fact, however, that I am becoming more and more reluctant to go through this sort of process. I'm becoming more suspicious and guarded. One reason is the realization that envy is behind the failure of so many connections (both in my own country as well as elsewhere). I certainly don't think there is anything to envy, but I can imagine what other people think they see. So... what can I or anyone else do about it?

Some of the signs of envy in another person is that they try to sabotage your life or your self-esteem, or that they withdraw with a silent and arrogant, snotty and reticent allure. They may either attack you with sudden and very irrational outbursts, or play hard to get. They quickly end the relationship no matter how promising it seemed, or wish to continue being your friend while making sure it's on their terms. You will find that they are always the ones in control, or trying to be. They may even go as far as to create their own version of your name with an evident disregard of your wishes! Of course, this could be a sign of other issues as well, but envy is certainly a very common and potent ailment. When my mother said that it is something that affects 90% of all people I was shocked. I realized that she may be right. "It leaves you with only 10% to relate to", she concluded. I thought of my friends and was well aware that the reason they have stayed in my life is that they have never displayed any envy towards me. These are people of various cultures and with various inner conflicts but they are able to have a sense of integrity that doesn't cause feelings of envy towards others.

It's obvious that people inflicted with envy are hurting quite a bit. Fundamental issues of self-esteem make them compare themselves to others in a way that can either bring about feelings of superiority or inferiority in them. It's a competitive stance. In some cultures such as my own, people are aware of envy and talk quite openly about it. It's not uncommon to hear people joke about "the Finnish national illness, envy" in the media. In other cultures it's not "comme il faut" to admit to feeling envy. It seems that this denied feeling might cause more havoc than it would if bringing it into the open was more acceptable. I don't see any end to the harm that it can cause. As long as people are envious of someone else there will be conflicts and wars. In fact, as I am thinking of it more deeply, it actually threatens to throw me into the throws of depression. It's obvious that my dream about connecting with more people is impossible. It's also the root cause to my frustration with other people. I can't change who I am and make myself less prone to other people's envy. So... as I see it, the only other option is to accept this predicament.

When you walk a spiritual path you have to learn to accept yourself 100%. The other thing is to accept the flaws in others. This really is the very basis of spirituality and the key to liberation from the fetters of the mind. One thing is accepting other people's skin color or sexual orientation; going onto accepting other people's inner selves is really something else and quite demanding. The extent to which we sense a lack of connection with others as well as acknowledge the obstacles says a lot about the degree of oneness that we are missing. The point is to stop yearning for all that from other people. Sometimes when we realize that we can never have what we truly wish, our focus changes. There might be a space there to accept the way things are and the way others behave, and move into tolerance. Yes, complete tolerance. People may always resent others for their accomplishments, and so there is nothing else one can do but to take back the power they have over one's sense of self in relation to others and hope that they will self-correct when the time is right. You may not be doing anything wrong other than giving your relationships too much power over your life, so you need to be discerning about this. Somehow these people need to see that they are truly as valuable as everyone else, and there is not much anyone else can do to help them with that.

Artwork: "Screwed Up Connections", digital photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009

Friday, 10 July 2009

Spiritual Transition

I wish to say a few words about spiritual transition. My own experience is that a kind of dark night of the soul is inevitable before something can open up within (see a previous post). You may have worked with yourself for a long time but at some point you're starting to feel weary. Nothing inspires you anymore. It may provoke a severe feeling of anxiety. You will most likely start to feel even more separated from other people and this, depending on your basic constitution, will feel truly horrifying. When you look back you realize that all your attempts at connecting with others have been futile. Now, to make matters worse, people start to drop out of your life. Maybe they don't recognize who you are anymore and may start to shun you. If you feel that this may be the case, it's not a nice feeling and pretty taxing on your sense of self! Some people truly don't fit into the new you that is in transition, as you don't inhabit the same energetic space as them anymore. Some may deep down feel envious of changes in you that they perceive ever so slightly. If you radiate more light then that could disturb other people who might feel inferior in some ways. However, speculating about this may lead you nowhere. Whatever the facts surrounding the loss of people and opportunities, what is certainly true is that a lot of weird stuff keep popping out of the depths of your being and you hardly even recognize yourself anymore! Chances are that you are a kind person, maybe cheerful even, but that doesn't seem to stand through anymore - you question your own self. This is not a bad thing, though, because you need to be open to a new version of you. You may not be going crazy. When you start to feel the true symptom of the dark night of the soul you will not only feel separated from the higher truth ("God" if you will), you will also feel separated from other people. In addition, you will attract odd characters who mirror the issues you still have, and so rather than feel bitter it's more constructive to see them as catalysts or teachers. Remember that they are attracted to you too, for whatever reason. I wouldn't recommend worrying too much about this, instead try and find ways of dealing with it that help to empower you in a good way - any way that helps you become more self-reliant is good because it brings you closer to the real you. Learning to say NO to people and things is a vital part of this process, as it's connected to the idea of resisting temptations along the same lines as the trials that Jesus and Buddha went through!

The horror that you may be experiencing is an existential angst that settles in your body in the form of a taught sensation as well as unpleasant phases of rather extreme anxiety. Because of going through deep inner change, you will also feel very vulnerable and open and other people will either misunderstand you, take advantage of your openness so as to feel superior themselves, or simply cause you to hurt because there is something in the connection that you are supposed to learn from. To bash oneself because one is attracting negative things is not useful in my opinion. This phase may last for a long time. It all depends how much change you can handle. Sometimes a sensitive person like myself also has to deal with physical issues such as fibromyalgia and the like, and this may slow down the process. It's best to try and honor this, relax and rest as much as possible. You just might be going through a major spiritual transition... it will be taxing on every level of your "old self" (physical, emotional, mental...). Don't worry; if all this is going on while you suspect it's a spiritual transition, it's certainly more real than talking yourself into it in some way. Fluttering around in a world of love and light may not get you this far. You may feel immersed in negativity but that's because you're releasing any that you still harbor in the depths of your subconscious mind. I'd recommend trying to accept it for what it is and focus on change for the better. It's in the nature of this predicament not change by force of will alone. However, the more you try to tune into the surrender to spirit, the better. It may seem like the last thing to do, and you won't do it because someone tells you to. You will because you've come to the conclusion that it's the only solution. But Rome wasn't built in a day... so hang in there and try to make the best of the situation.

I have good news, though. If this is indeed what you're going through and doctors are not able to find anything substantially wrong with you, then there will be a day when the Kundalini will wake up. It's a partially dormant energy of creation that starts at the very beginning of your spine (I suggest that people look it up if they are not familiar with this concept). You might be feeling something "going on" in your heart and your belly. Maybe you're thinking that the anxiety is giving way. You will have thoughts about the surrender of the ego to spirit. I can't tell you what exactly you will be thinking as it depends on who you are. You might have experienced some huge emotional break down including a lot of crying and very potent feelings of giving up on some pursuits that you have been very serious about. This is the key but not something you can conjure up yourself. It comes when you're ready. The whole point is that somehow, you've been able to get around the little self's desire to be in charge. It's solving a catch22, or maybe even a whole serious of them; attitudes, ideals and pursuits that you've been entangled in. That's when you will have an inner movement that will clear out a lot of the old psychopathological garbage that you no longer need (false attitudes, false pursuits, focusing on the wrong things in your life, and so on). It begins at the very end of your spine so that's how you know it's the Kundalini.

I would suggest, however, that you really set your priorities straight first. There are many distractions that will keep you in a state of struggle and suffering. In my experience you must choose to serve spirit and forget about any other pursuits such as finding the perfect partner or becoming rich. One Kundalini experience or ten may also not bring the ultimate clearance. Many people think they are enlightened because they got through one major obstacle in their life. What they don't realize is that it may not have been the only one and that one or more really serious ones may still lie ahead if they are willing to allow it. However this is all individual. There is no guidebook that one can follow. This post is only meant to help people be aware of what is possibly going on in their lives and to be open to all of it. Good luck!

Artwork: Digital Photograph by author, all rights reserved 2009

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Shame on You, Woman! ;-)

Don't get me wrong, I think women are fabulous creatures and most of the time, I think of them as "allies". Not so much in a war against men as within the framework of the project called "understanding ourselves and men". However, for all their wonderfully nurturing aspects, many women are behind the failure of a man to find a good woman. In the past women were not necessarily all that caring because there were too many kids to take care of besides the abusive husband. The morals of the past did not allow children to be respected as children, but were treated in ways that now seem infinitely cold. When things started to change the pendulum went to the other extreme. From the "free upbringing" of the 1970s we are now experiencing an era where the child's needs always goes first. We have a lot of spoilt brats around these days. Kids who rule their parents - and I really didn't make this up myself. Let's hope the balance will be achieved soon!

Women obviuosly need to take extra care to raise their sons in a sound way. Girls seem to be more able to sort out issues of a dysfunctional childhood. But I have yet to meet a man who had an absent or overly needy mother that has actually gotten over it and healed. They roam the Earth restlessly on the look out for the woman who will meet their needs just perfectly, and will obviously never succeed unless they settle for a doormat. One of the men in my past did just that and you wonder... what does he really feel, deep down? They take on someone who will be their hore, cook and maid. But in avoiding the deeper confrontations that naturally come in an intimate relationship, this man is simply running away from responsibilities and from finally growing up. Maybe he makes more babies just to prove his manliness and to superficially keep his partner happy. There is no real and honest interaction and thus no growth or even sense of deeper meaning. What a measly life! Behind this man may be a bad father. One who yelled his head off all the time, possibly even drank and beat up his wife. But even worse, the mother is not there for the boy either. If only parents will learn not to become parents until they are sure they have healed enough to be able to take good care of their children. There is after all now a choice in the Western world. But let me be clear on this; I am not saying all men are dysfunctional, only the ones whose parents did a bad job. I'm sure there are a few who were able to work it through, possibly with a therapist and a loving spouse. But from what I've seen this is difficult for men as they often resist going inside to mend the faulty attitudes they have acquired early on. I also feel that many men have never learnt how to approach a woman, and I assume that has a lot to do with their upbringing and the general climate that makes it alright to pretend to be equal when it's calling for less efforts from the man. This in my opinion is not the way to go... equality is not about treating a potential partner with nonchalance.

I'm writing this because it may seem that I hate men. I really don't, but I'm somewhat frustrated, that's for sure. When you're over forty, single and all the nice men are taken while the rest are nonchalant or dysfunctional, it's not easy to turn a blind eye. What I really feel is that the sordid secrets that many people carry should be exposed to light so that the world can change. Women need to wake up and stop going for the men that echo their childhood wounds. They must find a balance between their vulnerabilities and their strength. They must not be needy and imbalanced within themselves. Only thus can they be the best of parents to their little boys. Boys who eventually need to grow up embracing their male side as well as the female one. All in good balance. These will be just the way women like them to be; strong and manly yet empathic and warm. It is hardly any surprise that women will one day be the same, only in a complementary sort of way that fits their counterpart exactly. When the fit is perfect, there is doubtless no more "need" of any kind. I know it's really hard... but somebody has to start the good trend. Someone has to say stop, no more, and try harder to affect the world even at the peril of being left alone. And it seems to me that women have to make a real effort to change things around... it's a huge responsibility, but possibly the only way?

A spiritual life begins with caring for the self... As someone wise once said, you need to be somebody in order to be nobody. In other words, you need a healthy ego, or strong sense of self, before you can surpass it and open up to the greater truth about your existance. There is in my opinion no escape from this. No matter how impossible or hopeless your situation, you really must become self-reliant and not sit around expecting someone to save you with their love. I know most of us has heard this many times... but as I'm living this truth in my own life I can honestly say that this is what I believe to be true. As I allow my true nature to take the lead I will eventually heal and stop attracting those who try to convert me to their beliefs. While writing about relationships has been an important task in this life, I'm sure that one day there will be no more hurting men in my life to complain about.

Artwork: "Ace of Hearts", handmade collage by author, all rights reserved 2009.

Friday, 3 July 2009

How to Recognize a Spiritual "Saviour" Complex

There are people with a saviour's complex. I tend to run into them quite often because of my life situation, which makes me appear very helpless to some people. I don't think one needs to be ashamed of needing a bit of practical help in life - after all we are in this together. In reality, however, real, solid and honest help without ulterior motifs is very hard to come by. Among spiritually minded people there is one major ego trap that prevents them from becoming real enlightened beings no matter how much they might like to or pretend that they are already there. That is the saviour's complex.

I am going to talk about men who hit on women who appear fragile, because this is my personal experience. This is not a scientific thesis but a personal, empirical observation that I hope will help people be discerning about such encounters. In my opinion these men are weak and use their desire to help a woman as an excuse to suck her dry and appear more powerful. They feed on the idea that you're worse off than they are. If you do not wish to end up as a doormat you need to access your male energy and set firm boundaries for what is truly acceptable to you. These are healthy boundaries and nothing to be ashamed of either. You will meet with resistance but do not waver if your gutfeeling tells you that you're being subjected to something that is not good for you. Many of these points can be found in spiritual or religious teachers and in women, too. These are sad people but it's not your job to take care of their needs! They will never stop projecting their own sense of deficiencies on you.

  • The man in question has often spent a great deal of his life in meditation and has thus spent very little time learning about honest communication, relationships, and how to approach a woman in a tantalizing way. What may seem like an unconventional approach to dating is in fact simply a lack of knowledge and insight. Don't mistake clumsy with interesting. This guy doesn't have enough knowledge about real life because of having escaped it for so many years. He will obviously pride himself with the fact that he's meditated for so and so long.

  • He's not very likely to compliment you, because he's not really looking for a normal love relationship. He will hide his intentions from you or talk about them in a confusing way. This reveals that his heart is not open to you (or anybody else). He might even complain about having to be compassionate! He's certainly not that far evolved if this is the case! His strategy is to give you a nagging feeling of being inferior so that he can bombard you with his so-called wisdom and advice about how you should lead your life. If you start to feel that you won't be good enough for him or that you have to prove yourself all the time, it's a definite warning sign.

  • He's secretive about his intentions because he wants you to surrender to him. He may talk in terms of sexual surrender but what he really wants is for you to surrender your will to him. He will make you feel confused. Messing with your mind is a way of trying to control it. Many gurus use this technique as well so beware. Ultimately he will talk about surrendering to God's will. It's important to be really vigilant about the differences.

  • He loves quotes and will most likely bombard you with them. Instead of feeling uplifted, you start to feel drained and tired from them. They don't come from his heart and are certainly not meant to make you feel better about yourself. An authentic spiritual person is more creative and original than to use an endless array of quotes! This is in the nature of true spirituality! It goes without saying that this guy loves to preach. He may reveal that others think of him as a priest. I've even been told that I am one. Such talk is most likely just a projection from his own mind, a revelation about his true way of thinking.

  • Even if you signal your needs, for instance that you had a long and hard day, he won't take notice. He will keep you waiting because he needs to do his meditation first or for some really silly reason such as the summer heat. He won't be firm about how to proceed with the contact. Instead he will make sure that you don't know when he's going to call and it will seem that it's not okay for you to call him. Remember that he thinks he knows what you need and will be oblivious to anything outside of this subjective perception!

  • He will start to tell you what you need in order to become a better person or healthier, or even more beautiful. It sounds nice and empathic to begin with. He promises to give you tantalizing treatments and choose your dresses. But if you state your own opinions about your needs he will resist them. What he wants to give you may seem like an original gift but it's often just a copy of something someone else created or a ready-made formula that was not that hard to conjure up. Always be on the look-out for the lack of original thoughts and ideas. He may sound convincing but what he says may be straight from a manual. He loves his gurus and will refer to them quite often.

  • He claims to know what you're going through because he's been there but made it to the other side. In other words, he's more enlightened than you and thus has an excuse to give you the impression that he knows things about you that he can't reveal just yet, not until you're ready. This is a simple way of keeping you in suspense and thus dependant on him. His favourite adage is surely "embrace the unkown".

  • He might suggest that he will come into good fortune financially in "just a short while" and so hanging out with him is a good idea. This way he tries to make sure that you're going to stick around. The funny thing is, he may claim to become very lavish with his future money but he will complain about petty expenses that you caused him in one way or another, in the here and now. Such hints are tasteless coming from any man, no matter how upset he may be!

  • If you listen carefully, you'll see that while his tone of voice is often without much expression, there are moments when some form of bitterness will enter his speech. This will reveal the trauma that is driving him and it's very often a deficient parent. The scary thing is, he's likely to be looking for the mother he never had in you. If you're not the image of Mother Mary he will not be happy, and obviously no one can ever meet with his expectations. He may be an alpha male or a weakling; either way he will not make you feel calm and secure.
  • If he has an obsessive way of talking about the ego all the time and in all contexts, take heed. He probably has a problem with it. He might claim that he is ego-free but will make it clear that you're still ego-driven. For instance, he might say that testing people is behaviour typical of the ego and complain that you test him rather than trust him. Most likely he doesn't shy away from testing himself though. I ran into someone who was deceptive about trivia in order to see if anyone would be drawn to him on the basis of his energy. This is not really normal behaviour. Yet some form of testing is quite normal in the beginning of a relationship since you can't be expected to trust a stranger right from the start. If you are wary and cautious, he will probably hold your lack of trust in him against you even at an early stage of the relationship.

  • If you're stronger than he anticipated, he may retreat into a form of emotional blackmail. He will tell you that you don't act like a woman, or he may even reveal that he's the sensitive one who needs to be treated with the utmost care. If he has no real access to his male energy he will be passive-aggressive. Spiritual men are rarely able to express real anger and so he resents yours and shuns it like the plague! He might call you a controlling bitch when all you did was state your boundaries in a way that he is not able to do himself. He may call you hateful though you never used any actual words of hatred since you tried to be civil.

  • His most desperate attempt to get a hold of you is to refer to God's will (or that of any other form of higher power) and to insinuate that he knows what's best for you but you don't and you're missing out on life because you are stupid enough to resist God's will. I've been told that the man knew he was God's gift to me because I had earned it through good karma, but I was too stupid and my soul was too broken from torment to see it. And this was said with a winking smiley.

Artwork: "So-called Good Advice", handmade collage by author, copyright 2009