Growing and transcending

I’m aware that each time I write a truly vulnerable account of how I’m feeling about my disabled son I probably lose a few readers – understandably so because not everyone wants to read about someone’s suffering, especially those seeking a more uplifting story – so I’m drawn to say thank you to those who are drawn to read my experiences and feelings, regardless of reason. Sometimes I feel very alone and it helps to write it down and know people are reading my words, even when I am going around in circles with the same feelings and issues, or at least seem to be. I really do appreciate it.

I know in my heart that each of us is on a spiritual journey to realising our true self – our Christ self, Divine indwelling, soul – whichever term you feel most comfortable with -and we can’t drop off the path no matter what we do or feel. Sometimes life can feel completely unbearable and I think it is important to be honest about the suffering because it is the freedom of speaking the truth that ultimately saves us. As Carl Jung (I think) said, ‘suffering can’t always be worked through, only transcended.’ I cannot escape my pain. It just is. It exists in a state of consciousness that is fully human and I love and respect it. It will never leave me for it is part of me. But it is not ALL of me. And therein lies the answer.

I think it was Mother Teresa who said ‘when you know better, do better.’ We experience life in accordance with our level of consciousness, so once we grow spiritually, we experience life, and God/the Divine, from a higher state of awareness. However, growth is not a linear process, as I know all too well. I have meditated and prayed for years and feel I have a healthy relationship with my spirituality and the Divine. I am always growing and evolving and increasing my capacity for unconditional love. The difficulty is when old wounds get activated, or, as Eckhart Tolle says, the pain body, and once again I am lost in the pain of wanting what can never be. The pain body is the emotional element of the conditioned self – who we believe ourselves to be in relation to the outer world. Some people call this the ego, and indeed I have done sometimes, but I dislike the term, maybe because it reduces it to an unpleasant sounding entity rather than being part of my being which evolved to try and help me live in this world, however misguided it has been. It also seems to suggest that my emotions are ‘wrong’ on some level. My emotions over my son and wishing things were different are not ‘wrong’; they simply are. I can’t imagine anyone in my situation not feeling this way; at least, not without a huge and permanent shift in consciousness to the extent that one’s personal history just doesn’t matter any more because one abides purely in a state of love. This ideal was perfectly executed in the story of Jesus.

Regardless of what I, or anyone else, think about the whole mystery of Jesus, whether he was real, a myth, whether he was the only ‘son of God’ or pointing to the potential that exists in all of us, it highlights that Jesus was both fully human AND fully Divine. He often referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ i.e son of humanity, rather than God! He fully embraced his emotions, his humanness, his fear, anger, reluctance, sense of abandonment etc. He befriended the hurting, lost and broken people. He must have felt terribly alone in a world that wasn’t ready for him and did not understand him. He suffered unimaginably horribly in the hands of others, feeling betrayed and alone, all the while trusting in God’s plan for his life.

The most important part of the entire story: Jesus was not left to die; he was resurrected into his Christ self which transcended all his pain and suffering and restored him to his Divine identity. His old self had to die for the new self to be born. Whatever one believes about this, there is a lesson in letting go and having faith, that our suffering does not have to define us, even if it is part of us for a time (even a long time; indeed, some of us live with deep hurts our entire lives and only find relief on physical death). The story of Jesus has always brought me comfort because this is a man who went through the worst torture that I imagine is possible to man, all the while feeling abandoned by God, yet loving and forgiving those who inflicted such suffering on him, who then transcended it all; a personal reminder of the renewal of all life and our own eternal nature.

When I feel crucified by my personal circumstances and unable to find relief in any of my life’s blessings due to feeling consumed by wishing things had turned out differently, I remember that fighting against my suffering will not work. My suffering results from a part of me who understandably feels devastated and angry and let down by life. I also know that I carry within me some part of the Christ mystery – my Divine spark – which both encompasses and transcends this human life. It is a daily juggle, holding those aspects of my being, but maybe knowing they are there and perfectly okay, is enough.

Last night’s dream: A UFO, rainbow colours, water pipes and a lake

Last night’s dream was the most fascinating in quite a while. I was in some sort of building looking out of the window at a wood. Somehow I knew there was a lake beyond but I was scared of it. There was a room to my right containing a large amount of water pipes. I was absolutely terrified of these pipes and didn’t want the door open at all. I asked someone if the pipes would open out into the lake. I was told they probably would. Then it started to rain heavily and I knew the rain and the lake were the same. It was extremely dark. The ceiling began to leak and I looked for a cup to catch the water before realising I’d need something bigger. Then water began to pour down the walls. I looked out of the window only to see a beautiful rainbow. It got closer and I realised it was the shape of a saucer…it was a UFO! I whipped out my phone and started to video it. My mother (I think) walked towards it and I was scared she would be abducted, but soon after she came back and the UFO started to retreat. I videoed the beautiful rainbow moving further away. Then I saw the spirit of a white dog. After this I woke up.

The feelings that overrode this dream were the polar opposites: fear and love. I was scared of the lake and, most of all, the pipes. I do have a fear of water pipes in IRL but nothing like as exaggerated as it was in the dream. I think my fear here works on two levels; psychological and spiritual. I’m feeling emotional overwhelm due to the situation with my son, represented by the water pouring through the ceiling and walls and the sinister pipes, but I’m also scared of my spiritual power and the incredible energy being channelled through me which is represented by the pipes and the lake of my subconscious mind. The rain is deeply cleansing on all levels and as the source of life represents eternity itself.

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplative meditation lately and am aware that the Divine is only found in the moment, in the midst of suffering, not in some far away land when suffering is no more (as much as I wish for that). In meditation, I am often aware of a lot of energy. I can’t explain or label it but it’s there nonetheless. It’s a comforting feeling but also very powerful and disconcerting. I know I can tap into it and the effects would be massive, as indeed it has been in the past after a lot of meditation. I think the pipes behind the door are all the energy I’m keeping in view but scared to fully look at due to what they may unleash from my subconscious. I’m scared of my own power which is always available to me through my connection with the Divine in the moment. The dog may represent the underworld, reinforcing this primal connection to All That Is.

The UFO is even more interesting. Carl Jung believed it was a religious symbol, indicating attainment. Other interpretations suggest a symbol of the universe or the higher self. All of these ideas could be applied here and the beautiful colours suggest spiritual energy is surrounding me and available to me to tap into. And of course all the symbolism of a rainbow can come into play here – hope, transformation, God’s promise after the flood. It’s funny how I videoed it on my phone – I didn’t stay fully present to it, but wanted to hold onto it, place technology between myself and it. That shows some resistance as much as longing, which is part of the theme of being afraid of the power available to me. And of course my mother – or my higher self – wasn’t ‘abducted’ by the UFO; there was a short visit and the UFO went away. I won’t take on more than I am ready to.

I woke up feeling happy and awed. It’s a dream that was full of atmosphere and will stay with me as a comfort as I plough through these tough times.

A dream of numbers, speech therapy and Buddhism

Numbers were the main theme of last night’s dream and hugely symbolic. I dreamed that I visited a speech therapist at a place many miles from here. It was such a long way that I’d gone on the sleeper train but I was completely drawn to seeing this speech therapist. She recommended that I see her every week and drew up a price plan. Each week would cost £100 with the total amount I’d have to spend being £969. As I looked at these figures my heart sank. I realised that the cost – combined with the time and energy spent travelling up on the sleeper train each time – would be massive and I wasn’t sure I could commit. By the same token, I felt the speech therapist could really help. The dream ended before a decision was made one way or the other.

This dream relates strongly to a book I was reading yesterday by a spiritual teacher called Adyashanti on the subject of thoughts/ thinking and how our minds create suffering. The mind is a tool, to be used lightly in the dance of life, not something to get attached to or identify with or else suffering ensures. I was thinking (ironically) about this a lot yesterday and can understand the truth in it, but I also think it’s necessary to develop a healthy ego before it’s possible to understand and utilise this spiritual truth. In this way I totally agree with Carl Jung who stated: “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” If one has not developed a healthy ego, such as in the case of trauma, it’s probably not going to be possible to let go of identification with the mind or else risk major disintegration and psychosis. We are Divine AND human. We need to tell our stories until we don’t need them anymore. Until they are no longer freeing us but entrapping us. Forming a healthy ego is all part of the journey. I don’t see the ego is a bad thing – albeit it has its shadow side, like most things- but an inevitable part of the human experience until we wake from the dream. But as Adyashanti says, it’s all thoughts and opinions and these are mine.

Last night’s dream was, therefore, a representation of all those thoughts. I believe the number 100 is symbolic of the individual self within the whole/Oneness – not rejecting the healthy ego but embracing it as part of everything. I arrived on the sleeper train, meaning that until seeing the therapist I had been asleep, lost in ego. The number 969 is very interesting. I didn’t realise this until I looked it up but it represents the three virtues of the Buddha, with the first 9 symbolising the Buddha himself, the 6 represents his teachings, and the 9 represents the Sangha, or community. It’s actually called the 969 Movement (found on wikipedia). The speech therapist probably symbolises the expression of mind as n awakened tool – how do I communicate with myself and others? How do I use my mind in the right way? In Buddhist terms this is right speech/right action which points to the state of peace where we no longer attach to our thoughts but live more fully in the present moment. It means our suffering is minimalised as we are no longer investing in a sense of a personal ‘me’ which is separated from life, or focusing on what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Instead, we live a more peaceful, embodied, simple, awakened existence.

My dream is really highlighting the difficulty of this choice. Do I want to truly awaken or stay asleep? Can I maintain this level of awareness without being sucked into identification with my mind? How much should I invest in the personal me? Maybe none of these questions really matter. What matters is being aware moment by moment of my thoughts and feelings and knowing the point of power is always now.

Spiritual loneliness

I’ve realised that, for myself, spiritual loneliness is a thing. It feels almost taboo to say it, due to numerous teachings that suggest loneliness stems from a disconnect from one’s own soul and the answer is to go within. That is doubtless a very important and valuable truth, but it’s also true that it’s possible to be connected to oneself and the universe yet still feel lonely for likeminded company. It doesn’t have to be either/or. The key issue is balance.

I’ve started dating again after a break for a couple of years and many more years single. I decided that I’ve spent too much time alone. This is coming from an introvert with health issues who loves a dog for company! But alone time can be too much of a good thing. I’ve spent many years focusing on my spirituality through meditation, journaling, self-reflection, and I believe I have reached a good level of self-awareness, albeit I will never stop learning (who does?). I know I have not fully integrated all the wounded parts of my being, but I know they are there. I have compassion for them. And I just….feel lonely sometimes. The two meditation groups I was part of pre-pandemic have ended and there seems to be little around. Online isn’t the same by any means. I am fortunate to have friends, a couple who are also on a conscious path, but most are preoccupied with family and relationships and don’t have the time or inclination to sit and talk about the topics that matter to me.

As Carl Jung says in the above quote, loneliness stems from being unable to communicate about the issues that seem important to a person. Of course I can blog and that is great, but sometimes good quality in person human contact is what is needed. I wonder if this is a common feeling post-pandemic, a genuine spiritual loneliness and longing for a deeper connection with others? We can do all the inner work and re-connect with our own souls yet still hunger for community. Buddhists call it sangha; Christians go to church; for me it was meditation groups. Somewhere to go and share and grow through a shared understanding and mutual love and respect. Relationships are a mirror; we need them to keep ourselves honest.

I don’t know if dating is what I want/need or simply a spiritual tribe. But I will see. I’ve joined an online meditation group and I have someone coming to meditate with me tomorrow for the first time after I posted on a local group. I am hopeful that I will start to re-connect with people after this long season of retreat. I feel like my soul is in spring time, ready to burst forth and bloom. I know the garden will soon appear!

Wholeness

Image from https//:quotefancy.com

What does wholeness really mean? Almost every spiritual teaching refers to it, pointing to the fact that each of us is whole at the core, not in need of anything outside ourselves. Of course this is not meant to be taken literally as human beings depend on each other for our very survival – most of us (not all) need others to build our homes, prepare our food, make our clothes. Even going beyond the absolute basics, it can be argued we need others for companionship and support. No man is an island, as the saying goes. We shouldn’t have to live alone. For a great many people, that would be hellish.

Wholeness points to another kind of independence, or perhaps put better as inter-dependence. Many teachings say that there is no separation and that in fact we are each part of the same soul. Put differently, we are each a spark of the Divine so we carry the God-like wholeness within our very being. We are both whole and part of everything and everyone else. We can look to others to supply what we need – food, clothing, emotional support – without losing a sense of our own self, or our own Divinity (if one is so inclined to call it).

Well, in theory anyway.

Painful childhood experiences (or indeed, adult experiences) can derail this whole process (pun intended). It is hard to grow up feeling whole when a child has been neglected, belittled or abused. Their mind will become conditioned into thinking there is something very wrong with them. Not only that, they won’t have received what they need from their parents or other loving adults to be capable of growing into a psychologically healthy adult. Trauma, not even just the ‘obvious’ kinds such as abuse, can fragment a child’s sense of self, causing them to grow up emotionally dependent on other people and unable to gain a sense of their own self – known as co-dependence.

This is why I love Carl Jung. He stated that integration is necessary for one to achieve individuation (which to him was about fulfilling one’s potential, which can also be viewed as a connection to the Divine within). Wholeness means acknowledging the painful parts of themselves, not ignoring or denying them. It doesn’t have to mean loving or even liking them, but accepting they are there and part of the whole process.

Some may call the soul the part of us that is truly whole and the mind as the flawed ego. But I feel a little uncomfortable with this. I prefer to see the soul and the mind as working in tandem. The mind, when opening to something outside of itself, can learn to serve the soul’s agenda, but the mind is not wrong. It is doing the absolute best it can considering its experiences. It’s possible to accept those parts of us that block us from being open to something more – the spark of Divinity that we are. It’s an in depth process, as I know myself. I’m not sure it ever stops. It means being aware of the aspects of our personality that we consider less than perfect – the desperate neediness, the controlling behaviour, the jealousy – and trying to accept and understand them as being part of where we are on this journey while always holding onto our potential. That’s how I have come to see it.

Wholeness, then, for me is about love. It’s all about love. Loving oneself, loving others without getting lost in them, accepting and learning to love even the parts of ourselves that take us far from the feelings and behaviours that we wish we had; learning to integrate it all like a beautiful radiant kaleidoscope of Divine colour. Everything is truly Divine; there is nothing else.