I apologize for beating you with my fists and feet when you were small and vulnerable. I apologize for wounding your body temple. I apologize for burning your hands, breaking your finger, scarring your flesh. I simply couldn’t see you, laying there in a pool of blood and sorrow. Blinded my own repressed rage, I saw an easy mark for my aggression. I saw a new host for my pain. I now understand that my abusiveness was a smokescreen for my own woundedness. A habit entrenched early in life, it felt easier to repeat the abuse than to heal it. And, in many ways, your aliveness reminded me of my own deadness- I had to shut you down so I could remain asleep. Below it all, I had so much love for you, my sweet child. I just couldn’t manifest it. I don’t ask for your forgiveness- you must be true to your own process first- but I do ask that you grant yourself permission to heal and to live a life that is liberated from my effects.
I apologize for attempting to dim your beautiful light. It was so bright that it threatened my own unmet need for attention- who would notice me, in your enlivened presence? Although I was chronologically older than you when we had you, I was actually emotionally regressed, trapped in an unhealed primal consciousness that ruled my behavior. I had grown up in a family of love starved narcissists, each of us clamoring to see our individual reflections in a too tiny pool of validation. With our lights hidden under a bushel of shame, no one ever felt seen. Stealing other people’s light became my misguided path of self-elevation, a misplaced attempt at boosting my diminished self-concept. I am so sorry for this attack on the integrity of your being. You had every right to embody your magnificence with dignity. You had every right to shine.
I apologize for vilifying and scapegoating you. I am sorry that I actively blamed you for my own misery. I couldn’t hold my self-hatred any longer- I needed to pass it on to someone else. You were the perfect recipient for my frustration- you couldn’t defend yourself. And, I remember the worst of it- telling you that my life would have been better if you had died instead of the daughter I lost. As I read these words, I find myself almost turning away from your picture- it is too much to imagine that I could leave you with that- but I stay and face your image. I face it not because I can change what I have done, but because I owe it to you to stay in the fire of my own regret.
I apologize for mocking you and repeatedly calling you names. I should have known the scars that insults leave on a vulnerable being- mockery was fundamental to my family dynamics. In the heat of desperate survivalism, insulting each other was a momentary relief from our chronic state of hopelessness. I am sorry for perpetuating that pattern at your expense. I only wish I could reach inside of you and take back the words I left there. I know that you internalized many of those insults and believed them to be true. I know that it shaped your lens. Please know that my message was entirely my own stuff. Please know that you are beautiful in my eyes. And, more importantly, please know that you are beautiful through your own eyes. Please heal the remnants of my madness.
I apologize for turning others against you and pitting you against your siblings. Lodged in a competitive world view, my reality was divided into territories- threats and protections, enemies and friends, them and us. The demons of duality- ne’er the twain shall meet. Through this fearful lens, differences were equated with threats to survival rather than opportunities for learning. Like snorting animals on the prowl, if you didn’t behave like us, you were the enemy. Because you were so different from the rest of us, I identified you as an enemy. I forgot our biological connection, our shared humanness, our karmic engagement. I forgot the bridge that existed between our hearts.
I am so deeply sorry that I left you alone in your developing years. I apologize for abandoning you when you needed me most. I remember your cries for contact, your tireless efforts to connect, your tearful eyes through the living room window as I drove away. I looked away, but I still felt you. I just couldn’t do anything about it. In many ways, I confused you with the bad marriage that produced you, a marriage that I longed to escape from so desperately. When I had you, I was so emotionally immature. There was so little space inside me for another person’s needs. As I grow into my real adulthood, I am able to empathize with your heartbreak. In the last years, I have spent much time growing into the parent you deserved. Please know that I have taken that journey seriously.
I want you to know that I see you better now. I see the fear that I left you with. I see the ways that it impacted on your life choices, emotional availability, patterns of self-distraction. I see the ways that self-doubt prevented you from fully owning your power. Despite my madness, some part of me noticed the ways that you shut down to cope- the shallowing of your breath, the armoring of your heart, the reluctance to be seen. But I also see the ways that you overcame. I see the ways that you championed your own cause. I see the ways that you converted your fear into hope. I see how hard you worked to grow yourself. I am proud of you in ways that words can never express.
Most of the greatest achievements on the planet are unknown to others- private overcomings, silent attempts at belief, re-opening a shattered heart. The real path of champions truly lies within- the transforming of suffering into expansion, the clearing of horrifying debris, the building of a healthy self-concept without tools. The greatest achievers have found a way to believe in something good despite being traumatized and fractured on life’s battlefields. You are one of them. You overcame me. No matter what else you accomplish in your life, you are already a champion.
I am grateful that you disconnected from me many years ago instead of coming back for more abuse. You realized that I couldn’t meet your parental needs and that you had to look elsewhere. You were so very right. By choosing to protecting yourself, you also created the conditions for my own transformation. In your absence, in your determined refusal to enable my patterns, I was forced to recognize my impact. At first, I resisted the learning, but the love I felt for you penetrated my defenses and left me with no other option but to do the work. That work took me far back in time- both to our time together and to my own early life. Ah, the Power of Then- the impact of unresolved feelings on our now consciousness. Try as I did to disarm them by witnessing them, it was entirely ineffective. You cannot heal and resolve your emotional material with your mind. Your emotional material does not evaporate because you watch it. You can only heal your heart with your heart. I had no choice but to go back down the path and re-claim my feelings. In this way, you were my greatest teacher- the one who gave me back my heart.
Over the years, my own emotional armour has melted away. I have lost the energy that I once had to distract from my truth. I have grown tired of my falsity, denials and projections. And something has grown within me- a willingness to see what I have done and to acknowledge where I have failed. I don’t know if I will have another incarnation to do it better, but I want to set a loving intention before I die. I want to be living in truth when I close my eyes on this lifetime. And some part of the truth is horrifying to me. I know what I have done. I know the violence in my heart. And I know the causal factors: the desperate survivalism that plagued my family line, the shutting down of my emotional current, the build-up of resentment. But I also know that I had a choice. I could hear the voice of love calling me away during those acts of violence, but I chose to continue. I was influenced by my childhood, but I alone chose my path. Before God and before you, I am accountable for those choices.
As our society crosses the bridge from survivalism to authenticity as our way of being, I have every faith that we will one day move from love. I have done it, and I feel confident that others will follow. As part of that process, I call on all bullies to step out of their comfort zone and make determined efforts to shift their abusive paradigm. To find the courage to face the source of their rage. To break the lineage of toxic conditioning. To find constructive ways to soften their edges. To steer the collective (un)consciousness in new directions. To learn healthy ways to channel their aggression. Don’t do it only for those who you are harming. Do it for yourself as well. There is no life with a closed heart.
I do not know how God will judge me. I do not know how you will judge me. I do know that I have done all I can to own my actions and to open my heart. I am on my knees before truth. Know that I understand if you choose to remain disconnected. I truly do. You have to be true to your own process. But also know that I am here for you if ever you choose to open the gate again. Nearly 50 years late, but the way is clear.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” and the just released “Ascending with Both Feet on the Ground”. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser, Oriah Mountain Dreamer and Katherine Woodward Thomas, “Ascending” is a collection of Jeff’s most popular spiritual graffiti—quotes, soul-bytes and aphorisms frequently shared in social media. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition)” and the producer and key journeyer in the new spiritual documentary- Karmageddon- which also stars Ram Dass, Seane Corn, David Life, Deva Premal and Miten. You can connect with Jeff’s work at www.soulshaping.com.
THE AWAKENING WOMAN: A PORTRAIT OF POSSIBILITY FOR HUMANKIND
The Awakening Woman is consciously aware of herself and strives to be intimate with all facets of her being. She is her own person as well as relational. She nurtures and honors the relationship with herself as well as with others. She is actively awakening and supports the awakening of those around her. Her devotion to herself allows her devotion to others to be genuine and nourishing. She is sincere, authentic, vulnerable and strong. She is protective, and accepts and values protection from others when appropriate. She establishes healthy boundaries while keeping an open heart.
The Awakening Woman is intimate with her painbody and the feminine wound. She does not deny her pain, but turns towards it for healing. She knows that the dysfunctional views and oppression of females/femaleness is nothing she caused, but acknowledges the ways in which she has participated or was complacent in the unjust treatment of women and the roles that support it, and chooses to no longer participate.
The Awakening Woman does not objectify herself. She stands against the objectification of girls and women. She does not support or consent to those things that degrade or exploit what is female or feminine as well as what is male or masculine.
The Awakening Woman fights for equality at every turn and asks people to take a stand for woman’s issues and gender equality, knowing that this is foundational to all other forms of equality. She will not allow deflection or take the blame for her own victimhood, but will not over-identify with it or over-dramatize it to where it immobilizes her or stunts her own growth.
The Awakening Woman does not use sex or her femininity to manipulate or get what she wants. She ceases to engage in love-making without heart, but rather chooses love-making that is connected, organic, fully mutual, and from the healthy ego. She will not allow sex to be used as a substitute for true intimacy, or a distraction from unresolved wounds. She is not afraid to be called a prude or a slut for making her own conscious decisions around sex. She does not let patriarchy, religion, politics, the media, or the unhealthy male ego define sex, beauty, or relationship for her. Her relationship to sex is her own and comes from within, not from what has been dictated to her all her life by a culture that doesn’t value healthy sexuality. She does not placate or sell herself out to gain male approval, nor does she compete with or sell her sisters out for male attention.
The Awakening Woman speaks her truth. She speaks up when things don’t feel good to her. She values her intuition over others’ intellect. She seeks to be empowered through the divine essence of her being coupled with the cultivation of a healthy ego, and not from external sources and adoration. She uses direct communication and knows how to ask for what she needs. She does not let the good qualities in another overshadow what isn’t working in a relationship. She knows when to walk away and gives up control of trying to change people who do not meet her where she is. The Awakening Woman moves on.
The Awakening Woman distinguishes between the healthy masculine and unhealthy masculine. She has compassion and empathy for the masculine wound and reverence for the healthy masculine. She seeks union and equality with the masculine and acknowledges and expresses gratitude for those times she’s had to call on the male warrior or masculine energies in her life. She sees the masculine and feminine energies as complimentary and necessary to the co-creative force that will bring balance to herself, her relationships and to the planet.
The Awakening Woman is self-parenting and protects the little girl inside. She does not tolerate emotional or physical abuse. She knows how to openly give and receive love, without losing herself in another. She is moving away from the ‘people pleaser’ model. She uses NO as a complete sentence and doesn’t feel the need to over-justify herself or pacify others for the sake of being ‘comfortable.’
The Awakening Woman knows her value even when she’s not giving to or doing for others. She does not let outside influences overshadow or dominate her inner voice and knowing. She does not dim herself down to be liked and accepted. She is willing to be alone in truth over being in dishonest company, and accepts that being alone may be a part of her awakening journey.
The Awakening Woman acknowledges and learns from her past mistakes, patterns and unhealthy behaviors. Instead of letting guilt and shame keep her from actualizing her highest self, she makes a conscious and concerted effort to not repeat these things that have caused her and others discord. She works at shedding the parts of her ego that are no longer serving her or others, while developing the parts that do serve.
The Awakening Woman loves and honors her body and is endlessly grateful for it and how it provides for her. She smiles at the lines in her face, knowing that’s how they got there to begin with. She embraces her humor and laughs from her belly. She also cries and rages from her belly. She lets her belly expand naturally. She puts self care before self image and looks deeply at her conditioning around her external image.
The Awakening Woman is emotionally literate. She can identify and process her feelings and takes responsibility for her emotions. She does not apologize for her feelings and expresses them healthily towards herself and others. She refrains from displacing her anger or other emotions. She walks her talk and admits and corrects it when she falters. She knows how to give a healthy apology for any misstep. She is actively identifying and integrating the disowned parts of herself and does not project her happiness or discontent, positive or negative qualities, onto others.
The Awakening Woman does not carry others’ emotions for them, but holds a loving, compassionate space for them when possible. She asks for others to be responsible with and for their emotions so as to not engender co-dependency. The Awakening Woman will not settle for a love partner who is not her equal and him/herself awakening.
The Awakening Woman works to come from a place of abundance rather than scarcity. She is intimate with her fear, knowing when to let it guide her and when to confront and move through it; she uses it and other emotions as sacred keys to unlock the depths of her soul. She goes to her edge, yet honors her limitations without judgment or shame. She makes it a priority to find some refuge in a world that can feel unsafe to her.
The Awakening Woman is connected to nature and knows her own wonder. She knows how to DO and how to BE. She does not succumb to materialism and unconscious consumerism. She creates more than she consumes; and does both responsibly – mindfully choosing what is nourishing and not harmful.
The Awakening Woman has integrity within herself and with others. She is accountable, self actualizing and above all, works to cultivate a loving relationship with herself instead of relying on others to define her value or worth. She is finding ways to answer the callings of her life’s purpose and continues to expand into it.
The Awakening Woman is enough.
The Awakening Woman is a role model for humanity; the embodied potential of the divine as expressed through human form. She is here, right now; and though she often goes unnoticed, she is helping to guide us home.
© Jessica Bahr. Author in process. She can be reached at: Relationshifting@gmail.com
*This piece is a companion piece to a blog Jeff Brown wrote in 2011 called ‘The Awakening Man: A Portrait of Possibility for Humankind, which you can read at http://www.spiritofmaat.com/jul11/the_awakening_man.html
APOLOGIES TO MY (SWEET) BODY (from a head-tripper in transition)
I apologize for hiding from you in my mind. I was a head-tripper extraordinaire, preferring the seeming safety of my thoughts to the often savage world of feeling. Although I was frequently called ‘absent-minded’, I was actually ‘absent-bodied’, living far outside the walls of the body temple. I grew up in a hateful family, and feeling into my body meant feeling into the horrible memories held in my tissues. Surviving by my wits allowed me to think my way through challenging circumstances and shielded me from pain. But my headiness came at a price- excessive analysis perpetuates emotional paralysis. My coping strategy became my blueprint for reality, alienating me from my real life. But I want to stop watching you from afar. I want to open the gate and come back in now.
I apologize for abusing you with toxic food, over-eating, workaholism. I wanted you drained and deadened so that I couldn’t feel you. If I enlivened you, I felt my emotions more strongly and my pain emerged. If I numbed you, my memories remained buried. Yet another self-distraction technique. I am sorry for those acts of misplaced aggression. I couldn’t hold you safe because I had never been held safe. I had to first forge self-love in the fires of life.
I apologize for shaming you, loathing you, hiding you, feeling embarrassed about you. I am sorry that I judged your seeming imperfections as oddities rather than reflections of the Godself. My attitude was a direct reflection of my own self-hatred, the internalized remnants of a shamed and vilified inner world. They told me I was ugly and I believed them. Characterized as the black sheep throughout my childhood, I took that message to heart, often perpetuating the shameathon at my own expense. As I work to bring my light out from under its bushel of shame, I see the wonder that is you shining through. Such a majestic temple, a living prayer to the Godself. If we don’t honour the temple, there will be no place to pray.
I apologize for looking for my spiritual life independent from you, as though God is a disembodied construct and not a felt experience. Like a good little head-tripper, I wanted to think God, rather than feel God. And so I looked for God on the skyways of detachment, mistaking self-avoidance for enlightenment itself. I went down this path for some time, seemingly calm on the outside, but a bubbling cauldron of unresolved feelings in the deep within. In truth, the closest I ever came to an inclusive consciousness were in those moments when I surrendered to you completely, blemishes and all. It is no accident that we are here in physical form- God is IN the people. I apologize for looking for God outside the temple walls.
I apologize for weighing you down with physical and emotional armour: rigid musculature, congealed rage, shallowed breath, a hardened heart. Perfectly conditioned as a lone-wolf male warrior, I preferred solidity to fluidity, weaponry to warmth. A slave to survival, I was built to move along the path like a machine, postponing rest and pleasure for a day that seldom came. With my armour intact, nothing and no one could touch me. But I was borrowing energy from my future. I was killing myself. Even now, I am under no illusion that I will shift this way of being easily. It is deep in me, deep in my memories of overcoming. But I will try, one shedding at a time. I will try.
I apologize for subjecting you to objectified, heart-severed sexuality. You are built for intimacy that is depth-full, unifying, indistinguishable from the God-self. Anything less is a perversion of your divine nature. But I all too often wanted it shallow and Godless. I wanted no bridge between my heart and genitals, my heart and hers. Even when I was going through my ‘tantra’ phases, I was still abusing you, because I was using my genitals as a bliss seeking missile and not a bridge to the divine. I was using sexuality to escape the moment rather than to deepen in connection. I am sorry that I abused you in this way. I am committed to enheartening my sexuality. I am committed to building the heart-genital highway within.
I am grateful for the so many ways that you kept me going even when my waking consciousness was completely alienated from you. If I had been ruled by my thoughts alone, I would be long dead, bouncing as I was from one heady tree-top to another. But you never failed me, never forgot me, never lost sight of where I really lived. You kept breathing me when I acted against you, when I shamed you, when I disowned you. You kept loving me, calling me back, keeping me afloat until I could meet myself. Such devotion. Deep bows..
I am particularly grateful that you carried me through the most destructive life stages. You healed the wounds and broken bones of early life. You shielded me from violence with your fists and feet. You got me out of bed when grief was immobilizing my spirit. You pulled me out of the fires of childhood hell, even when I re-created them throughout adulthood. You warmed me up, as I knocked on thousands of doors to sell windows in Canadian winters. You kept me awake through a sleepless trial law apprenticeship. You endured 3 decades of workaholism and over-compensation, with little rest. Dearest friend, how can I best honour you?
Thank you for being my authenticity-mometer, my temple of truth. How beautifully you carried my sacred purpose until I was ready for the hand-off. You reminded me with truth-chills whenever I walked in the right direction. You tripped me up with truth-aches whenever I dared to walk in someone else’s shoes. What is so remarkable is that you never failed to communicate with me when I was living a lie. I may not have been ready to listen, but you never abandoned your faith in my possibilities. I now know that my true-path is encoded in the bones of my being. Not a temple that I visit, but one that I am.
I look forward to the day when humanity fully embraces your divinity and recognizes the unity at the heart of creation. A unified consciousness still exists outside of our habitual awareness, but it sings to us from deep within, a symphony of God-music that is calling us home. Where body, mind and spirit appear to be flowing in disparate directions, they will soon be revealed as inextricable branches of the same waterway. On the river of Essence, everything flows in the same direction —towards the ocean of wholeness.
As we move closer to a unified consciousness, may we recognize the heart of the matter- our enheartened body temple. Enlightenment is not a head trip- it’s a heart trip, gusts of God blowing through the portal of the heart, the aortic love valve merging with the love that courses through the universal vein. As it turns out, it isn’t beginner’s mind we seek. Its’ beginner’s heart- the freshness of appreciation that flows through the open heart. If we want to expand our spiritual consciousness, we have to shake our heart tree often. Opening the heart unlocks the heart of the universe, and we see what is always before us. May we be committed to shedding the armour around our heart a little more with every breath.
I am writing you by the banks of a small river, watching Canadian Geese land, resting and readying for the next leg of their journey south. I watch them, settling into a body they never left, truly here. Time to surrender, sing the birds of pray. Then, when their body is ready, they rise again, rising on the wings of their love. I hear them, calling out to each other. Surrender! they cry, as they fly God home for the winter.
One day, I won’t write you as though you are independent of my waking consciousness. One day, I will pray to you, as you. One day, I too will fly to God without leaving the temple. Until then, please continue to hold me safe.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, “Soulshaping” is Brown’s autobiography — an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition).” You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com
THE AWAKENING MAN: A PORTRAIT OF POSSIBILITY FOR HUMANKIND
The awakening man is conscious, heartfully defined. Through his eyes, being conscious is not a cerebral construct, nor an intellectual exercise bereft of feeling. It is a felt experience, an ever-expanding awareness that moves from the heart outward. It is feeling God, not thinking God. The new man is always in process, awakening through a deepening interface with the world of feeling. He continues to strive for a more heartfelt and inclusive awareness.
The awakening man has shifted his focus from a localized and ethnocentric perspective to a world-centric framework of perception. His community is humanity. Rooted in the relational, his sense of responsibility extends well beyond his localized self and community. Where possible, his choice-making is fuelled by an expansive vision of possibility for all of humankind. Not every man for himself, but every man for humanity.
The awakening man has reverence for the divine feminine, in all her forms. He celebrates the wonder that is woman. He is respectful, honouring and gracious. He is saddened by the horrors perpetuated against women by the malevolent masculine. He holds his brothers accountable. He makes amends for his own misdeeds. He co-creates a world where all women will feel safe to move about freely, to find their voice, to actualize their inherent magnificence. He welcomes a world where women and men stand as equal partners. Humankind.
The awakening man is not externally derived. He is authentically sourced. He does not compare himself to others. He does not adapt his personality to the dictates of the crowd. He stands in his own centre, respectful of others but not defined by them. He works diligently to liberate his consciousness from the egoic ties that bind. He has become his own benchmark, valuing authenticity over image. He is the sculptor of his own reality.
The awakening man courageously works on his emotional processes. He clears his emotional debris and sheds his armour. He faces his issues and unconscious patterns heart on. He calls himself on his self-avoidant tendencies and honours the wisdom at the heart of his pain. He communicates his feelings in a way that is respectful to others. He learns and speaks the language of the heart.
The awakening man leads a purpose-full existence. He has heard the call to a deeper life. Not satisfied with survival alone, his ambitions are rooted in higher considerations- the excavation and actualization of his sacred purpose. He is energized by his purpose, not by the machinations of the unhealthy ego. He is coated in an authenticity of purpose that sees through the veils to what really matters. His purpose is his path.
The awakening man is accountable for his actions and their effects. He does not deflect responsibility. He does not sidestep or blame. He is self-admitting and emotionally honest. He admits his errors, and makes amends. He works diligently in the deep within, crafting a more clarified awareness with every lesson.
The awakening man moves from the inside out. More interested in inner expansion than outer achievement, he cultivates and honours his intuition. He explores and develops his inner geography. He adventures deep within, integrating the treasures he excavates into his way of being. He seeks congruity between his inner life and his outer manifestation.
The awakening man seeks wholeness. He is not satisfied with a fragmented way of being. He has no attachment to archaic, linear notions of masculinity. He seeks a sacred balance between the healthy masculine and the healthy feminine. He seeks an inclusive way of being, one that reflects all of his archetypal aspects. He is role flexible, comfortable moving through life in many different ways.
The awakening man embodies the highest standard of integrity in his words and deeds. He makes a sustained effort to work through anything that is not integrity within him. His framework of integrity is never convenient or self-serving. He honours his word, even at his own expense. He moves from a value system that is unwaveringly incorruptible. He recognizes that success without integrity is karmically unsound and meaningless.
The awakening man prioritizes conscious relationship. He values authentic co-creation. He honours relationship as spiritual practice. He seeks physical intimacy that is deeply vulnerable and heartfully connective. He is attuned, engaged and healthily boundaried. When relational challenges arise, he courageously works through any obstructions to intimacy. He stands in the heartfire.
The awakening man is a warrior of the heart. He has taken his clarifying sword inward, cutting away everything that is not compassionate. After too many lifetimes with weapon in hand, a benevolent warrior is being birthed at the core of his being. He honours the warrior capacity for assertiveness, but he is not arbitrarily aggressive. He moves from love and compassion.
The awakening man endeavours to live in a state of perpetual gratitude. He is grateful for the gift of life. He is grateful for those ancestors who built the foundation that his expansion relies upon. He is grateful for those who encouraged him before he could encourage himself. He is grateful for those who stand beside him in this lifetime. He knows that he does not stand alone.
The awakening man is comfortable in his vulnerability. He participates in his own revealing. He is not afraid to surrender- to reality, to love, to truth. This is not a weakened form of surrender, but one that is emblazoned with courage. It takes more courage to surrender than to numb. He openly explores his capacities for receptivity and tenderness. He does not identify these capacities as distinctly feminine, but as whole human. He is strong enough at the core to live in a vast array of emotions.
The awakening man moves through the marketplace responsibly, with a vigilant eye to the ways of the unhealthy ego. He is not opportunistic in a vacuum. He does not compete for competition’s sake. He does not accumulate for the sake of accumulation. In charting his course, he is mindful of his impact on humanity. He is empowered but he does not exploit power. He derives his power from his connection to source, not from power over others. Where possible, he shares the abundance, gifting back to humanity. He works hard to bridge the world as it is with a world of divine possibility.
The awakening man has reverence for Mother Earth. He has reverence for animals. He never imagines himself superior or distinct from the natural world. He understands the interconnected and interdependent nature of reality. He knows that if he does damage to the environment, he does damage to himself. He walks carefully, with awareness, consciousness and appreciation.
The awakening man has no claims on God. His spirituality is tolerant, inclusive, respectful. He honours all paths to God, so long they are respectful of others. He accepts those who believe, and those who don’t. He condemns any path that uses religious differences as a justification for destruction.
The awakening man brings forward many of the qualities of the healthy masculine of old. He is noble. He is responsible. He is productive. He is kind-hearted. He is protective. He is unswervingly honourable. He is down to earth. He is sturdy. He is flexible. He is realistic. He is hopeful. He is sensitive, not fragile. He is healthily egoic, not self-centred. He is both practical and heightened at the same time. He ascends with both feet on the ground. He is really here.
A former criminal lawyer and psychotherapist, Jeff Brown is the author of “Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation,” recently published by North Atlantic Books. Endorsed by authors Elizabeth Lesser and Ram Dass, “Soulshaping” is Brown’s autobiography — an inner travelogue of his journey from archetypal male warrior to a more surrendered path. He is also the author of “Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior in transition). You can connect with his work at www.soulshaping.com.
APOLOGIES TO THE SACRED MASCULINE (The letter this warrior-in-transition would like to receive)
I apologize for those moments when I couldn’t see beyond my projections to your true nature. With so much relational trauma in the rear view mirror, I couldn’t distinguish the heartless from the benevolent warrior. With my lens blurred by unhealed emotions, I was unable to see you in your wholeness. I unknowingly projected my negative expectations without recognizing those moments when you were moving from love. Please forgive me my projections, and know that below my pain was a heart that genuinely longed to merge with yours.
I apologize for pushing you to open your heart when you weren’t ready. I longed to be met in my openness, and I couldn’t bear the disconnect between us. I am nourished by direct communication, and I took your silence personally. I didn’t understand the relationship between your detachment and your warrior conditioning. I do see this now. From the beginning, you have been cast in the role of warrior protector and your emotional armour was fundamental to your task. Without it, you would not have been able to remain vigilant on the battlefield, nor succeed in the competitive marketplace. As our world moves away from survivalism as a way of being, I am hopeful that you will feel safe enough to live from an open heart. Such beautiful light comes through that opening.
I apologize for not always seeing your limitations and struggles. There were times when I could not see past my expectations and fantasies. I had grown up with a fairy tale of a great knight that would save me, and I clung to that vision, preferring the perfection projection to the reality of humanness. As a result, I didn’t always see how much stress you carried, how difficult things were, how hard it was to hold it all together. Of course, we perpetuated the projection together- you hid your humanness from view while I chose not to look for it. I look forward to the day when our relationships are not predicated on illusions, but on a deep recognition of each other’s authenticity.
I apologize for giving you mixed messages about how I wanted you to manifest. At times, I wanted you to be soft and tender. At other times, dominant and protective. How confusing this must have been for you, how challenging to go back and forth between such differing feeling states. It has been so confusing for all of us, trying to straddle the line between our needs for both safety and vulnerability. One day, the perversions of polarity will fall away and we will arrive at a sacred balance between all healthy ways of being. Women will feel safe to assert their voice and embody their wholeness, and men will feel equally safe disarming and speaking from their vulnerability. On the rivers of essence, everything flows in the same direction- towards the ocean of wholeness.
I apologize for being passive aggressive towards you. I was not taught to express anger directly, and I was frightened of your aggressiveness. I know that you have had similar challenges with experiencing your sadness and releasing your tears. In the world we are moving towards, I am hopeful that both genders will have seamless access to all emotional states and healthy forms of expression.
I am sorry that I expected you to fill my emptiness, when the only one who can fill it is me. I have often looked for answers in relationship, somehow imagining that another could complete me. After so many centuries of disempowerment, I didn’t realize that I had the tools for my own self-creation. But I am recognizing it now. Where before we met as two fragmented beings, we will soon meet as two whole beings- each of us healthily boundaried, well-integrated and intrinsically complete. Two soulitudes.
I am grateful for all those moments when you held me safe and operated within the heart of compassion. The backlash of recent decades was a necessary response to generations of suffering, but many of your contributions got lost in the shuffle. In my efforts to find my voice and stand my ground, I have not always given credit where it is due. I encourage you to re-claim anything you have lost along the way, and to proudly embody the sacred masculine as you once did. I apologize for those moments when I discouraged your power. I could not distinguish it from its historical misuses.
I am grateful for the many positive contributions you have made to my reality. I realize that you often communicated your love for me and the village with deeds, not words. I thank you for helping to construct the structures that my expansion relies upon. I thank you for labouring long and hard to establish rule of law. I honour the warrior spirit that built the railroads, the cities, the bridges that bring us into contact with one another. I honour those warriors who fought and died on battlefields in an effort to protect us. You have sacrificed so much in order to hold us safe. Praise to those benevolent warriors who came before.
I am grateful for GrandFather, for holding the space for my expansion with patience and wisdom. I am grateful for Father, for defending and sheltering me. I am grateful for Father Sky, for showing me a vision of possibility that transcended my circumstances. I am grateful for the Divine Father, the real Father of us all. I now feel his divine presence, so close. Fiercely compassionate, he was always right here, holding me safe.
There has been so much blame between us, so much hatred and name-calling. To be sure, it is essential that we express our anger and heal our hearts. Nothing should be swept under the rug in that process, everything should be exposed. But it is also important that we have compassion for each other and endeavour to understand the context for our actions. We have all been victims of a sociological landscape that impacted on our identifications and behaviours. Like two different species in the same bed, we were compelled by circumstances to inhabit roles that kept us miles apart. Those roles have caused us great suffering, each gender suffering in its own way. To the extent that one gender was denied wholeness, the other was denied it as well. Women were denied the right to basic protections and pathways of expression, men were denied access to a tender, receptive way of being. No one got off easy, despite appearances.
As we move towards a more enheartened interface, may we create space for new visions of possibility. We must begin the process by healing the genderation gap that exists between us. We must soften the edges perpetuated by our reactivities. We must heal the rifts along the gender continuum that keep us apart. In my most clarified imaginings, I envision a world that fully celebrates the healthy feminine and the healthy masculine. Instead of throwing all gender differences out with the bath water, we make a conscious distinction between benevolent and destructive identifications. We craft a sacred balance of our healthiest aspects. Each of us identifies the unique fusion of feminine and masculine energies that aligns with our essential nature. And we openly learn from one another -men teach healthy manifestation, women teach healthy womanifestation- and we come to humanifestation together. We meet each other in our entirety.
May we never forget the relational and co-transformative nature of human expansion. Although the ultimate romance is with your own soul, it is our experiences together that give birth to the essential lessons. We are each here to participate in this dance of sacred imagination, stepping on each other’s toes and turning each other toward God one clumsy step after another. We trip, and then we get back up with greater awareness. With this in heart, I am hopeful that we can learn to accept one another in our humanness. We are going to continue to make mistakes, but there is grace in that if we see our errors through to the lessons they contain.
I look forward to the day when we can meet one another in our true nakedness, stripped free of unresolved emotions, pain-induced projections, the distortions of duality. For too long we have been on opposite sides of the river, the bridge between our hearts washed away by a flood of pain. But the time has come to construct a new bridge, one that comes into being with each step we take, one that is fortified with benevolent intentions and authentic self-revealing. As we walk toward one another, our emotional armour falls to the ground, transforming into the light at its source. And when we are ready, we walk right into the Godself at the centre of the bridge, puzzled that we ever imagined ourselves separate.
May you feel the presence of the Divine Mother close at heart, inviting you to rest deeply on the tender shores of your own essence, nestling you in the grateful arms of those you have protected. Those who have received your blessings may not always acknowledge it, but your acts of love have landed within us, growing us stronger and infusing us with love’s light. Rest dear warrior, rest. I hold your heart safe.
© Jeff Brown, 2011 (Author of ‘Soulshaping- A Journey of Self-Creation’; www.soulshaping.com)
*’Apologies to the Sacred Masculine’ is the second in this apology series. The first piece ‘Apologies to the Divine Feminine (from a warrior- in-transition)’ can be read at http://soulshaping.com/?p=782
I AM NOT MY ‘STORY’
Wisdom– In the right context, this perspective can invite us beyond our habitual, linear, localized and neurotic perspectives into a vaster framework of perception. We are, so often, so much more than our stories. We need to transcend and re-frame ‘story’ in moments of great difficulty, when the pain and confusion are unbearable, or when we sense that our lens is incongruent with reality.
Perils– If taken too far, this perspective can detach us from the reality of who we are and becomes a reality bypass technique. We may not be only our stories, but we are also our stories. In the heart of our stories are the personal identifications, emotional material and unresolved issues that are the grist for the soul mill for our spiritual expansion. Without karmic clay to work through and with, our expansion is stalled.
Grounded Perspective– I honor my story as the karmic field for my soul’s expansion. I value the cacophony of circumstances, archetypes and experiences that I chose or that were chosen for me in this lifetime. The Schools of Heart Knocks and Heart Delights is my primary school for expansion. At the same time, I choose to look beyond my habitual range of emotion, and see my story and my life experiences from a broad, imaginative and multi-layered perspective. I see my story from a localized and a universal dimension. Not identifying myself as my story, but interfacing with my story in a way that humanizes and transforms my consciousness.
DO WHAT YOU LOVE AND THE MONEY WILL FOLLOW
Wisdom: This optimistic saying can have the effect of inspiring us to honor our callings and follow our dreams. This encouragement may be just what we need to finally make “a leap of fate”- a stepping forward into the pre-encoded life we are meant to live. In some cases, that stepping forward opens the door to abundance.
Perils: If followed too literally (and too hastily), this saying can lead to disaster. All too often, individuals make the wrong-headed assumption that what they love to do will necessarily meet their economic needs. Or they abandon their practical career before they have done the foundational work necessary to earn a living at their calling.
Grounded Perspective: Do what you love, and the money MAY follow. Some callings are inextricably linked with financial abundance, others may not be. Although I envision a day where society will be structured in such a way that we survive economically doing what we love, we aren’t there yet. Some of us still have to honor our divine purpose while making our money doing something else.
The SPIRITUAL BYPASS
Spiritual Bypass: A term first coined by author John Welwood, the spiritual bypass is the tendency to jump to spirit prematurally, to turn to God as an escape hatch. Spirit becomes a crutch rather than an expression of a natural unfolding. The bypasser looks outside the body for spirituality rather than in the heart of it. He turns to God reactively, in a determined effort to get away from here. The deeper ocean feels safer than the riptides of disappointment and grief on Mother Earth. The bypass has many possible indicators i.e. the starry eyed bliss trip, radical detachment from one’s self-identifications, premature forgiveness, ungrounded behaviors, wish-full thinking. The opposite of ‘Ascending with both feet on the ground.’
Wisdom: In a world of pain, the spiritual bypass is an essential mechanism. For some of us, this mechanism actually allows us to survive and momentarily transcend unbearable aspects of earthly reality (i.e. practical challenges, traumatic events, unresolved emotions and memories). Without it in place, some of us would perish in the heart of unbearable pain and suffering.
Perils: Sometimes bypassers forget to come home. On a pogo stick to the stars, they float off to outer space and lose contact with Mother Earth, detaching from their personal identifications and emotional lives to an extreme extent. By turning away from old pain, they have simply shackled themselves with their unresolveds. Sometimes, reality brings them back to earth with a harsh and deadly thud. But not always.
Grounded Perspective: The bypass is an unrooted trip-out rather than a solidly rooted trip-in, a form of openness that is not actually open, because there is no structure to ground it. It may be a necessary survival tool for a time, but real growth demands that we come back down to earth and work with what lives inside of us. ‘Ascending with both feet on the ground’ is a model of grounded spirituality that invites to connect to the Godself from the ground up. We begin with the root chakra- the quest for Om begins at home- and we work our way up from there. It is not enough for our feet to merely skim the ground. The mythic life begins with our feet planted on Mother Earth. With our soles firmly planted, our Soul has a leg to stand on in its efforts to go higher. As we develop a healthy egoic foundation and work through our chakras, we become organically present in our bodies and in the moment. From this stable foundation emerges a natural and sustainable movement upward, toward God. Instead of settling for the occasional peak experience, we are now capable of sustaining a more heightened way of being.
Copyright Jeff Brown (Author Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation; www.soulshaping.com)
APOLOGIES TO THE DIVINE FEMININE (from a warrior in transition)
I apologize for my inability to distinguish the benevolent warrior from the heartless warrior, a reflection of my own confusion dealing with the battlefields of yore. When I opened my heart too wide, I was vulnerable to attack from warring factions. I was conditioned to believe that I had to stay rigid, focused, prepared for any eventuality, in the desire to protect myself and others from attack. But I went too far, and closed too tight, and eradicated the bridge between our hearts. I am seeing this now and I am sorry.
I apologize for my perpetual absence, a reflection of my own inner absence, my inability to connect from a heart jammed tight by unresolved emotions that I did not have the tools to work through. I still lack many of these tools, but I am open to their emergence.
I apologize for my inability to distinguish relationship from war. Like a warrior in enemy territory, I would sneak in and out of your life in the night, plundering and selfishly taking what I needed, then crawling back to the other side of the abyss with the spoils. I gave little back for fear that I would become vulnerable to attack. I had war on the brain and I could not see the river of love waiting on the other side of the battlefield. I now recognize that love is the antidote for the armoured warrior, but I could not drink the antidote in my driven state.
I apologize for not seeing you, my eyes blinded by congealed rage and unshed tears. If it is any consolation, and I imagine it is not, I could not see myself either. I saw only that which served my hyper-vigilance, my warrior focus. My mirror was a battlefield.
I apologize for my ungrounded materialism, my power driven tyrannies, my obsession with accumulation. Somehow I imagined that accumulation would protect me and those close to me, but I failed to recognize that it just perpetuated the madness. I also apologize for my egoic abuses, a reflection of my own misguided ego, pumped up to deal with an inherently competitive world. I couldn’t distinguish the healthy, confident ego from the cocky, unhealthy ego. I went much too far in the wrong direction.
I apologize for a sexuality that was objectifying and disconnected from the heart. I know you longed for real intimacy, a merging of our souls along the heart-genital highway. But there were too many defences around my heart, and no bridge could form between our souls. There were moments when your loving ways freed me from my body masks, but I had no template to stand in that heart-fire. I am sorry for this, for I know that the path you longed for was the path to God.
I apologize for my horrifying acts of violence, a reflection of my own congealed rage, my own inability to distinguish real enemies from friends. There are no words that can undo what I have done in those moments of madness. I know this, I do. I would hide my face in shame, but that won’t make things better. I need to own my misdeeds, and then find a way to believe in my capacity to move from a more loving place. I call out to other male warriors to be accountable for the actions of our gender, not in a way that is self-hating, but in a way that is courageously self-honest and genuinely compassionate. The heartfelt warrior acknowledges the error of his ways, and has the courage to do all he can to make amends over time.
I apologize for my inability to develop a conscious relationship. You were right there with your beautiful heart on your sleeve but I was too attached to my individualism and afraid of this unknown terrain. I know the forests, the marketplace and the ways of the outer world so well, but my inner geography is foreign to me. You called me to a place I was ill-prepared to go, although I sensed, below the surface of my bravado, that you called me home.
I am grateful for your willingness to believe that who I was in those rare moments of vulnerability was the real me. You were right- the real me lives inside of my heart- but a few moments now and then was the most I could handle. I saw you as dangerous, for in your presence I began to taste a surrendered way of being. Nonetheless, your faith in my goodness kept me going through many a battle, and restored my faith in life when I most needed it. You were the light at the end of a barbaric tunnel, and I am blessed.
I am grateful that you stuck with me through thick and thin, and I also understand those times you had to give up and let go. I now recognize that there is meaningful difference between a love-ship and a relationship. Love alone is not enough. Without a shared willingness to become conscious, there can only be frustration. I was so often impossible, clinging to my unconsciousness like a soldier clings to his weapons. I recognize the courage it took for you to keep your heart open in the presence of my resistance. You had every right to seek an authentic relationship, as your spirit was ignited in its presence. Your beautiful heart had every right to be met in its openness and willingness. I am grateful for the time you gave me, a moments respite from the hiding places I mistakenly called home.
I am grateful for Grandmother, for no one saw my tenderness more clearly. I am grateful for Mother, for choosing to bring me into being and for nourishing my body until I could find my feet. I am grateful for Mother Earth, for grounding my expansion and enlivening my spirit. I am grateful for the Divine Mother, the real Mother of us all. I now feel her divine presence, so close. Fiercely compassionate, she was always right here, breathing life into me, holding me safe. I sit in her lap as she breathes me.
I look forward to the day when the only thing that ignites relationship is two souls calling out to one another, two soul-hearts beating in the same direction, a whisper of longing that bridges one essence to another. I want to want you not because it gratifies my ego, not because you are outwardly beautiful, but because your very presence invites my Godself out of hiding. I want to touch you with my heart on my sleeve, to know chemistry between us that is not gender identified, but that is essence sourced, loves liquid lava flowing from the heart to the genitals to the great beyond. In this love-struck world, relationship will always be experienced as spiritual practice, a devotional expression of our God-self.
I had always believed that sensitivity is impossible to hold to in a harsh world. Yet in this moment, I feel sensitive, but without the fragility. I am still wearing armor but there is a shift in the direction of my intensity. I can linger in the heart-space a little longer than I once could, I am softening in places. After so many lifetimes with weapon in hand, a tenderling warrior is being birthed in the core of my being. He is confused, but he intuitively knows that this is the way home.
Please don’t give up on me or my fellow warriors. Forgive us our misdeeds, or, at the least, be open to the possibility that we will change as the trail expands to meet our shifting intentionality. The day will come when our warrior spirit loses its harsh edge, and comes into alignment with benevolent action. Some of us are already there, and many more of us will follow. The road to transformation is dependent on a bridge between genders, a benevolent bridge that celebrates our differences with respect and kindness. That work must begin with healing the rifts along the gender continuum, working hard to heal the collective heart until one day we can stand on a bridge across forever, hands held together, hearts open and alight, embracing the sacred masculine and divine feminine living at the heart of us all. I will meet you there.
May you feel the love of the Divine Mother crashing down on your heartfelt shores, graciously lifting you up above the madness of the world, nestling you in the grateful arms of those you have nurtured. Those of us who have received your blessings may not always acknowledge it, but your acts of love have landed within us, growing us stronger and infusing us with love’s light. Thank you.
© Jeff Brown, 2010 (www.soulshaping.com)