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.
You are Sacred Purpose.
You are not your shame, your fears, your addictions, your games, your guilt, the internalized remnants of negative messaging… You are not your resistance to your true path … You are not your self-doubt… You are not your self-distraction patterns. You are not your escape hatches… you are not your pessimism about a life of meaning and purpose. You are not here merely to survive and endure.
You are Sacred Purpose.
No matter what others have mistakenly told you about who you are, no matter what mistakes you may have made in the past, you are here with a sacred purpose living at the core of your being. If that weren’t true you never would have made it down the birth canal. You never would have overcome what you have already overcome in your life.
You are Sacred Purpose.
Whatever your ways of distracting, postponing, delaying, armouring, avoiding, altering, feigning, artificializing, externalizing, superficializing your life… I encourage you to STOP IT NOW. This really is no game, this is completely real, this sacred purpose that courses through your soul veins crying out to be heard from below the surface of our avoidance. I cannot say this with enough assertiveness… To the extent that you identify and honour your true path in this lifetime, you will know genuine satisfaction, real peace in your skin.. You will be infused with vitality and a clarified focus, new pathways of possibility appear where before there were obstacles. You will know a peace that will buffer you against the madness of the world, a clarity of direction that will carry you from one satisfaction to another… Life will still have its challenges, but you will interface with them differently, coated in an authenticity of purpose that sees through the veils to what really matters. To the extent, that you avoid the quest for purpose, you will live frustrated, a half-life.. your avoidance manifest in all manner of illness, perpetual dissatisfaction, emotional problems, depression, addictive patterns, ALL REFLECTIONS OF YOUR own alienation from the purposeful root of your being.. You see, there really is no escape from reality, all there is, is postponement. you should be more afraid of avoiding your path than walking it.
You are Sacred Purpose.
AND It doesn’t matter what anyone tells you about who you are. There is so much of that. This is your journey. Even those with the best of intentions, cannot know the path you are here to walk. The REAL journey is not one of adapting ourselves to someone elses vision, but instead, shaping who we are with our own two hands. The unique clay we work with lives deep inside our soul bones, awaiting our own detection & expression. You are the sculptor of your own reality- don’t hand your tools to anyone else. Only you can know the path u r here to walk.. it’s a personal decision, and it doesn’t have to be grandiose. Your purpose can be as simple as learning how to listen better, how to enjoy the moment without getting in your own way.. wherever the growing is, wherever you find genuine peace with path, wherever you feel unmasked and genuinely real.. in the survivalist world that we are coming from, we defined ourselves by what GOT US through the day, whatever masks got food on the table, whatever way of being endured this challenging life.. but we are at the beginning of a new way, a way of being that is sourced in who we REALLY ARE, not our egoic face, not our survivalist face, not the false face of our hidden power, but the real face, the real path, the no bullshit no hype no pretence expression of WHO u REALLY ARE and a life that fully and deeply expresses the magnificence that lives within you.. Your sacred purpose may be covered in dust, it may be HIDDEN FROM VIEW, but its still in there, sparkling with infinite possibility..
You are Sacred Purpose.
This is a call to action. A call to authenticity. A call to dig yourself out from below the bushel of shame and self-doubt that has plagued humanity. A call to get off the dime and do the real work to call yourself on your distraction patterns and excavate your own purpose in this lifetime. What are you here to learn? What are you here to overcome? What are you here to express? What does your authentic face look like? Who are you, above and beyond all the noise and haste.. this is not about money, or bullshit ideas of abundance, or gratifying your ego, this is about the real thing, the real deal, the vulnerable and courageous truth about who you are and why you are here. I ENCOURAGE you to take the question of sacred purpose seriously… to not postpone it for another hour, or week, or till you retire, until the next lifetime, til you finish school, or end your relationship, but to take it seriously now… To work like a dog to find out what lives inside of you, what you are here to express, what you are here to manifest and express, what you are here to give, to share, to learn, to create, to dance, to art, to walk…. You don’t know how long you have, it may be 60 years, it may be 60 seconds, you may not make it to retirement, you may not make it to tomorrow morning, atleast if you are questing for your purpose, living your truth, you will not suffer when its time to leave your body in this lifetime, you will be living in your authenticity, this is no small achievement in this distracted world, where the unconscious media and manipulative marketers try to turn us generic and frightened so we will be locked into their script., fuck that. You are already have a script and it lives deep inside you…that script is your purpose, what you are here to express, to learn, to embody, to humanifest… So u decide which script to read- the fictional novel written by those who do not SEE u, or the HOLY BOOK written by your glorious spirit. When you walk through the gateway of purpose, you walk into yourself. You are sacred purpose, you are sacred purpose, you are sacred purpose. Don’t stop until you find it.
Jeff Brown, author of ‘Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation’ (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.
With his permission, I want to share some of the highlights of a profound dialogue I just completed with Ram Dass, the brilliant author of 'Be Here Now'. Fantastic!
I have been seeking to develop a model of Spirituality that somehow integrates the wisdom of the West with that of the East. That is, a model that weaves the Eastern quest for the Eternal with the Western quest for Emotional and Mental Health. A Soul-Ego bridge, if you will. Unity Consciousness meets Self-concept on a bridge across forever. I have become disenchanted with the models that emanate from the sky down, and have been seeking a model that works from the ground up.
In writing Soulshaping, I brought myself some way down that road, but there remained areas of uncertainty. For example, I was confused about the seeming conflict between Ego and Soul-based models of development. In Western culture, we put tremendous emphasis on the development of the Ego. Feeling strong and well-integrated on an egoic level is considered a healthy step, necessary to our efforts to deal with the world confidently. Yet, I frequently meet individuals who see the Ego as the enemy of a truly spiritual life. They contend that if there is too much Ego, the gateway to a Soulular consciousness is impeded. Through this lens, the key to our spiritual advancement depends on the dissipation of the Ego and our capacity to move through our lives from the Soul outward.
The way I have resolved this seeming tension is to imagine it all happening in steps. We begin with the Ego. We clear our shame, build our self-concept, assert our power. We become healthily boundaried- we know where we end, and where the other begins. Then we let our obsession with the self go and naturally begin to seek something vaster, a connection to our Soul's path and to the broader Universe: 'All one', 'I am that, too', etc. Ram Dass himself expressed this philosophy: "You have to become something before you become nothing…"
But this isn't working for me anymore. If unity consciousness means anything, it means that everything is part of the ongoing equation. My intuition is that the Ego and the Soul are not actually as far apart as we imagine, at least not in 'the world as it ought to be.' Perhaps it is not the Ego that is the illusion, but our belief that the Ego is everything that is the illusion. The real issue is our difficulty linking the Ego's function to our ultimate transformation. At times, I see the Ego as the Soul's ongoing worker-bee, instigating and over-seeing the foundational work necessary to sustain our connection to Soul. The Ego clears the debris and manages the world so that the Soul's light can shine. At other times, I actually see the Ego and the Soul as indistinguishable. If you believe (as I do) that we come into each life with particular lessons and callings, then does the current state of the Ego not reflect the current stage of the Soul? For example, if one of my lessons is the healing of my Mother wound, does not my fragmented Ego with respect to this issue reflect the as yet unformed shape of my Soul? Ego-shape = Soulshape? Hmm…
Ram Dass and I discussed this. I played Ego's Advocate, Ram Dass-Soul's Advocate. Ram Dass acknowledged some responsibility with respect to the perceived Ego-Soul split in the West . When he wrote 'Be Here Now', he was reacting against the Egoic nature of Western Culture- the materialism, the headiness, the marked disconnect from a Soulular Consciousness. We were identifying ourselves as our Ego rather than understanding the Ego as our vehicle for spiritual transformation. His calling demanded that he put the Soul's journey front and centre, in order to help bring us into alignment. We needed a strong shot of Soul to wake us up. But now, 35 years later, I believe we need a more integrated approach. Ram Dass didn't agree with my contention that the Soul and the Ego are indistinguishable ('They are two planes of Consciousness'), but he did agree that they are not naturally anti-thetical. There are times when they are in opposition -God knows!- but they are also complimentary and intrinsic to each other's functions when we are moving through our lives in a conscious manner.
Through this lens we interpret our personal traumas and challenges in terms of their ultimate lessons rather than through a narrowly psychological framework. Instead of dismissing the self as secondary to our spiritual path, we recognize that it reflects the exact incarnation material that we need to work through to grow spiritually. Our Soul expands when the EgoSelf processes and interprets the material on the Soul's behalf, converting our personality issues and experiences (the stuff of our incarnation) into the Grist for the Soul Mill at their source. Soul Food.
So, we were in agreement, or thereabouts. But I was still confused. It all made sense on a conceptual level, but HOW does the Ego process the Grist? In my own experience, this has not been a cerebral process- I have never been able to transform my Soul's Consciousness through intellectual means. There had been moments of insight, to be sure, but they always seemed to emanate from the emotional body below: Felt experience ignited awareness. Every time I reached the next plateau in my consciousness, I got there by surrendering to and working through the emotional material generated by my experiences. I needed to submerge myself in the material (not drown in it…but dive into and through it!) to convert it.
In Soulshaping, I refer to this process as "Cell your soul": the idea that the body is the karmic field where the Soul's lessons are harvested. In order to grow spiritually, we must bring our suffering and our joy through the cells of our bodies until our spiritual lessons are birthed. Repressed emotions are unactualized spiritual lessons. To grow spiritually, we have to see our feelings all the way through to completion. Once they make it all the way through the conversion tunnel, the lesson is revealed and the Soul evolves to its next stage.
We worked with an example from my own life. Some years ago, I attended a holotrophic breath workshop with Stan Grof. There, I tapped into a childhood memory of being pinned down (symbolically) by my Mother, the sense that she was always on my back. As the breathwork intensified, I felt the need to simulate this in physical form. I asked the assistants to lay on top of my back, and I repeatedly threw them off of me. It was a profoundly cathartic emotional experience- (semi) free at last! – and created enough space inside for me to then open to the next plateau of spiritual awareness. Psych and spirit inextricably linked. Grist for the Soul Mill in action.
I have discussed this experience with many seekers. Many suggested that I was wasting my time getting lost in my material. It was egoic, self-centered, narcissistic. Some said that I needed to simply forgive the past, let it go, focus on the light. Others contended that the trick to spiritual transformation is to bypass the incarnation material, to see my personal issues and memories as distinct from our ultimate transformation. But where is the Grist that transforms us, if not in our daily lives? What does it mean to love the world, if your heart is filled with unresolved anger? What does it mean to be in the moment, if you continue to feel obstructed by the past?
Ram Dass was much more balanced about it. He agreed that the body is the Soul's temple. We live our incarnation material through our bodies, and when we are done, our Soul moves on to the next birth. But he was resistant to the idea that working our material through requires therapeutic process. He was wisely concerned about our tendency to get lost in our emotional material, to wallow in the psychological without making spiritual progress. Fair enough. It's a fine line between self-pity and a healthy working through of the material. At the same time, I am not sure how we can shape our soul to the next stage, if we don't deal with the emotional material that emanates from our experiences. What else grows us from the ground up?
By the end of our talk, our perspectives were close. I was a little right of Soul, Ram Dass was a little left of Ego. But close. It seemed to me that the meeting place is somewhere inclusive, something I called ENREALMENT in Soulshaping: "The idea that a more "heightened" consciousness is not all about the light (as enlightenment implies) but is about becoming more real, more genuinely here in all respects: shadow and light, earth and sky, grocery list and unity consciousness. It is about living in all aspects of reality simultaneously rather than only those realms that feel the most comfortable." In other words, if you think that the stuff of your incarnation is all that you are ("I am sweeper, I am Lawyer, I am unhappy person"), then it is all that you are. But if you stay connected to the fact that your stuff has both a localized and a universal dimension, you are on the right path. Not identifying ourselves as our stuff, but identifying our stuff as the key to our transformation.
At the heart of 'Enrealment' is a vision of a human being that ascends with both feet on the ground. We grow by coming down into our body and our personhood and learning the lessons necessary for our expansion. 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. Once the root chakra is satisfied, we proceed to the next chakras. As we heal, there emerges a natural and sustainable movement upward, towards God. This philosophy bridges the Eastern emphasis on the Soul with the Western emphasis on psychological health. Alexander Lowen meets Neem Karoli Baba, Localized lens meets Archetypal Wave, Sole meets Soul on sacred footpaths. ALL one.
(Soul)food for thought…
As the model of Grounded Spirituality at the heart of Soulshaping continues to deepen its roots, I continue to work on clarifying my lens on what it really means to be a Soulshaper. I am not attached to these ideas, but identify them as a good starting point for the discussion. What I have come to love about this approach is that it does not leave anyone out. Too often, as I was struggling on my path, I felt like I was not spiritual if I wasn't blissful, or detached, or able to get what I wanted from the universe simply by asking for it. What I wanted was a model for spirituality that met me right where I lived, and that honored my struggles down here on Mother Earth as actual reflections of my spiritual path, that is, the idea that my grounded challenges were the grist for the soul mill for my spiritual growth, and, in their essence, indistinguishable from it.. I want us to celebrate ourselves right where we are on the journey, recognizing that our journey is always spiritual, as we seek to uncover and to embody the divine purpose that sources our birth..
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A SOULSHAPER
MEANING-DRIVEN: The Soulshaper believes in something more than the arbitrariness of the universe. Life has directionality and purpose. The Universe is inherently benevolent. The key is to uncover the meaning that threads through our existence.
TRUE-PATH: At the heart of the soulshaping journey is the quest for 'true-path'- that path which reflects our particular purpose in this lifetime. The Soulshaper makes a conscious distinction between true-path and false-path. True-path is reflected in our 'innate image'- an encoded vision of who we are here to become in this lifetime. Embodying that vision depends on our ability to identify and honor our soul scriptures- those particular callings, lessons and archetypal pathways that live at the heart of our transformation. To the extent that we honor true-path, our soul's consciousness expands. To the degree that we misidentify, we come back the next time with the same lessons waiting in the wings.
DIVINE PERSPIRATION: The Soulshaper works hard to develop his inner muscle, the soul-driven determination to deal with whatever challenges come his way. Under no illusion that the processes of self-creation are easy, he recognizes that walking a sacred path is often challenging in a survivalist world. Before even identifying his scriptures, he may have many obstacles to overcome- economic challenges, emotional debris, patterns of self-distraction, negative beliefs, the weight of the world. He works hard at it, persistently and courageously, until true-path is liberated and rises to the rafters of consciousness.
SOUL ADVENTURER: To clarify the path, the Soulshaper has no attachment to any one tool or technique. She is willing to explore any and all pathways of possibility. At times she sits in the place of not knowing and practices the art of detachment. At other times, she befriends her confusion, lives in the question, jumps into experience. A swashbuckler of the spirit, she ignites depth charges- intentional efforts to excavate her callings- whenever necessary. With a relentless sense of wander, she eagerly lets go of her localized frame of perception, and adventures into broader and more inclusive realms of consciousness. When a calling is excavated, she tries it on for size, checking its authenticity against her soul-scriptures. She boldly goes where her soul has not gone before.
SOUL-TRACKER: The Soulshaper strives to become an expert soul-tracker, ever sensitive to directional signs as to path that emanate from within. These signs can take many forms- an intuitive hit, a spiritual emergingcy, a sacred grumble, a lingering truth ache. A student of inner dissonance, he looks hard for symptoms of his own falsity. Ever vigilant, he faces his patterns of avoidance head-on. He identifies his escape hatches. He names his game. He is all about living in truth.
INTENTIONALITY: The Soulshaper is all about a soulful intention. He is not interested in the act itself, so much as what compels it: Am I doing this action to honor true-path, or to distract from it? Am I ending this relationship because I am afraid of going deeper, or because it is a distraction from my callings? Depth-avoidant behavior or Soul-driven action?
THE BODY GARDEN: The Soulshaper honors her body as the karmic field where her spiritual lessons are harvested. Far more than just a vessel for the soul, the body is the embodiment of the soul- the soul's garden of truth. She tills the soul-soil with purifying practices- enlivening exercises, armor-busters, heart-openers- in an effort to create space inside for true-path to emerge. A built-in authenticity-mometer, her body dulls when she is living falsely, and glows when she is true to path.
THE SCHOOL OF HEART KNOCKS: To actualize his karmic lessons, the Soulshaper surrenders to his emotional processes, making no distinction between his emotional life and his spiritual path. Although mindful of the perils of misidentification (the thinking that we are ONLY our identifications), he recognizes that the state of his incarnation is a direct reflection of the shape of his soul. Therefore he works hard on his stuff, clearing his emotional debris both because it creates space inside for his authentic self to emerge, and because inherent in those feelings and memories are the lessons he needs to grow in his spiritually. Although lessons can be pleasurable, they are often painful at this stage of our collective transformation- the ladder to heaven is made from broken rungs. Our ascension depends on our capacity to 'cell our soul', to bring our suffering through our emotional body until our spiritual lesson is birthed. Fully actualized, these lessons are the grist that grows the soul, karmic fodder for the mill of spiritual expansion. Karma yoga meets therapeutic process.
GOD IS IN THE PEOPLE: In its essence, Soulshaping is an immersion model. It is about jumping into life, immersing ourselves in our feelings and experiences in an effort to learn what we need to expand our soul's consciousness. It is about embodied spirituality. It is about 'feeling' God, not 'thinking' God. It is about healthy, selective attachment. It is about the inextricable relationship between the opening of the heart and the expansion of the soul (Open-bless-a-me). It is about heartfelt connection as the path to God, connection in all its forms: We-God.
BE REAL NOW: The Soulshaper is not seeking enLIGHTenment-a word that implies that the most advanced forms of consciousness are brightly lit, perpetually blissful. She is seeking enREALment: an inclusive consciousness that incorporates all planes of awareness at one time- shadow and light, subtle and gross realms, ego and soul, earth and sky, localized lens and archetypal wave. That is, a model that weaves the Eastern quest for the Eternal with the Western quest for Emotional and Mental Health. Unity Consciousness meets Self-concept on a bridge across forever.
A SOLE TO SOUL PHILOSOPHY: At the heart of 'Enrealment' is a vision of a human being that 'Ascends with both feet on the ground'. The Soulshaper understands that our ascension to the Godself can only be sustained if it is an embodied unfolding 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 ego and work through our chakras, we become organically present in our bodies and in the moment. From this stable presence 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. Sole meets soul on sacred footpaths..
HONORING THE UBS: The Soulshaper has faith in the Universal Broadcasting system, the dynamic and benevolent network of relatedness that brings lessons and messengers onto our path in an ongoing effort to grow our soul. He works hard to clarify his inner channel so that he can summon and receive what he needs more readily. He has no expectation that the universe will send him everything he asks for, but he does have faith that the UBS will send him just what he needs to grow to the next stage. If the universe is attuned to anything, it is attuned to our 'soulular state', how close or how far we are from honoring our divine purpose for this lifetime.
SOUL SUCCESS: The Soulshaper is ever conscious of the difference between egoic and soulful notions of achievement. She is governed by a notion of success that is directly linked to the actualization of her soul-scriptures: lessons, callings, authentic expansion. Material success is only meaningful to the extent that it reflects and actualizes her innate image.
ONLY SOUL KNOWS: The Soulshaper recognizes that only he can know his soul's path. Other may have opinions that are of value, others may call out to and remind him of his knowing, but only he holds the key to his kingdom. He is always his primary guru. In the same way, he will always attempt to give others back their own power, refusing to exploit their projections onto him as knower. At heart, the Soulshaper believes that every individual is here for a profound reason, however simple or humble it may outwardly appear. Through this lens, he strives to make the 'Presumption of Essence' in those he encounters. Instead of seeing individuals exclusively in terms of their adaptations and disguises, he seeks to honor and connect with the soulful being that lives at the core.
INCH WORMS: Although persistent, the Soulshaper recognizes that real change takes time. The Soulshaping journey is life-long and lives long. Growers are inch worms. The fall back to habitual ways is a natural part of the journey home. So long as we persist in sticking our head back out a little further each time, we continue to grow: Three steps forward, two steps back is progress.
GENDER BRIDGE: The Soulshaper does not see the world through a gendered lens, recognizing that the most inclusive soul contains all aspects of traditional gender roles in equal measure. Gender is just a way-station, an opportunity for the soul to embody particular archetypes and work through its karmic lessons. The ultimate being is poly-gendered. At some point, the assertive and the surrendered become indistinguishable.
SOULPOD-SEEKING: The Soulshaper understands the relevance of the 'soulpod' on her evolutionary path. The soulpod is that person or group of people whom our soul finds resonance with at any given moment. They are so often the key to our expansion. Although her growth may demand a disconnection from certain family and friends, she honors her ancestors wherever possible and attempts to see their actions in context. She honors those souls that established the foundation for her to go higher, those souls who died on battlefields so she could live, those souls who did anything positive to light her way. At the same time, she does not bypass her feelings or forgive the past arbitrarily, but only when that forgiveness is an organic manifestation of genuine emotional resolution.
GIFT BACK: The Soulshaper inherently understands that the individual soul is inextricably linked to the collective soul. We are each here as part of the sacred dance, stepping on each others toes and turning each other toward god, one clumsy step after another. Once he reaches a measure of soul satisfaction, the Soulshaper begins to actively look for ways to benefit other souls who are stumbling on the dance floor. He gifts back to the Universe that gifted him with this precious life. We are in this together. We are this, together.
Jeff Brown (www.soulshaping.com)
I wrote Soulshaping over more than a six-year period, in the cramped and isolated back room of my house in Toronto, Canada. Written amid a tyranny of economic and personal challenges, I went back and forth between the back room and the marketplace, racing off to make a living, returning home to find the words. Although I longed to stop and breathe, the call to write was relentless, determined to have its way with me. If I spent too much time doing business, it mocked my materialism: “Enough! You met your basic needs. Now get back to the computer.” If I went to bed too early, it woke me up in a start: “Get in the back room and write!” It soon became clear that honoring my calling was my only defense against sleeplessness. If I wrote, I slept. If not, I lay awake all night tormented by the words waiting, impatiently, at the gate of self-expression. It all seemed a little insane.
At the same time, I was riddled with shame and self-doubt. My calling was to write a subjective book, to talk about spirituality through the vehicle of my own journey. Yet every self-deprecating part of me rose to the surface to knock it down: “Who wants to read about your miserable journey. Why don’t you keep these embarrassing experiences to yourself?” “You’re not famous—who is going to buy your autobiography?” “This may serve some therapeutic purpose for you, but won’t help anyone else.” Nonetheless, I kept at it, both because writing it was helping my soul to expand, and because I had some odd faith that my story might actually help someone else. The little voice that knows.
I finished the manuscript in the spring of 2007 and sent it to a leading spiritual publisher. Soon thereafter, it was returned to me with a contractual offer to publish. My ego was elated—an offer, so fast!—but my spirit was deflated. Their editor had spent weeks chiseling away at it, cutting it virtually in half. It didn’t look like my book anymore. Whose book is this anyway? Is this a blessing or a curse? Confused, I went away and compared our versions. At first, I was too attached to my voice to see the gift, as though it had been my voice that I was channeling (first mistake). But then my inner eye opened, and I saw the gift he had brought. My version was too long and repetitive, his leaner and crisper. I didn’t agree with everything he did, but he gave me something that I didn’t have when I wrote it—a reader’s consciousness. Bless him, beautiful man.
But there was still a problem. My soul was grumbling. I didn’t like the contract; something didn’t feel right. It put a limit on the word count. I went inside and listened in. What did the little voice have to say? I heard the trumpets of guilt chastising me: “How can you turn down an offer after receiving such a wonderful gift?” Good point! I heard from my ever-practical ego, “You are exhausted. You are a first-time writer. You had an immediate offer. You fool—take it!” But I also heard a more benevolent, intuitive voice: “You have already opened the gift that the Universe sent you. Trust your intuition and bring this book into the world on your terms. Begin on the grass-roots level. You wrote with that intention, so honor it.”
I refused the contract. I had written a book about the importance of honoring our soul-scriptures to the letter. How could I ignore mine? I self-published (soul-published) the first edition of Soulshaping at the end of 2007. I picked up a thousand books, and then wondered what to do next. Trust, Jeffrey, trust. I sold a few, then a few more, and then the emails started coming. They weren’t just regular emails–they were emotional outpourings, cries of truth. Something about the self-revealing nature of Soulshaping invited readers to admit their own pain and their own longing for true-path. They said it was their story I had written. I was startled. Like many trauma survivors, I had grown up thinking that my family scene was different than everyone else’s. When I was selling windows door to door as a student, I would knock on the door and then step back, somehow imagining that the world inside that home was somewhere above the world I had grown up in. As I read the response to Soulshaping, I realized that I was wrong. I was not the only one, not even close. So many of us have walked the same trauma trails and endured similar hardships. So many.
Then I encountered a bright-eyed homeless man who lived near my home in Toronto. I called him “the pushcart guru.” We had an idea–he would sell the book on the streets. Seemed preposterous, until he sold a bunch almost overnight. And then people started to come looking for him. They would contact me—“I want to buy a book from the homeless guy!” The media came, we made a YouTube video, he sold dozens of books in no time. Then the Facebook group began to grow, people began quoting from the Soulshaping dictionary, readers sent in a bevy of book testimonials, and a free audio pod on my Web site—“the little voice that knows”—became so popular that we had to expand the site capacity.
Then the Universe kicked into gear, attracting people to the book under the oddest of circumstances—Serendipity galore. A friend called. She was with her friend in downtown Toronto when they formed the intention to go to the bookstore to look for a copy of Soulshaping. On the way there, they found one—sitting on a park bench. I had given a few copies away to a homeless man to sell the night before. He must have left one behind. Something was afoot.
My first press run almost completely sold out in a matter of months, without tremendous effort on my part, with virtually no bookstore coverage. Heartfelt gratitude to my soulpod. It takes a village to raise a book. Yet another bit of proof that we cannot achieve anything alone.
I went to sleep one night and had a vivid dream—I saw the book sitting on a bookstore shelf. The message was clear: This book was not mine anymore. It was for those who needed it. It was time to get it into the right hands. The Universe had spoken.
I contacted an agent I knew. He told me to call a particular distributor. By the time he returned my call, he had already recommended the book to three publishers, although he himself had never read it. With very little fanfare, a contract was worked out with North Atlantic Books for a new edition. Published in late August, 2009, Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation began to touch more lives from the get-go, culminating in a series of related writings posted on Good Morning America, The Washington Post, Synergy Magazine, Wisdom Magazine, Reality Sandwich.com, Sein de. and Insight Magazine in 2010. This new website soulebrates these achievements and provides an opportunity to bring the messages of Grounded Spirituality and Truth-Making to a vaster audience. When your mission is aligned with the Benevolent Universe, everything begins to happen seamlessly, a river of essence that rises up to meet you.
The publishing journey has validated many of the things I wrote about in Soulshaping. First, it validates the faith I had in my inner voice—the little voice that knows. This voice carries a karmic blueprint for our destiny, whispering sweet somethings in our inner ear whenever we dare to walk a false path. Easily drowned out in this distracting world, it is the best friend we will ever have. Raising it to the rafters of consciousness is essential to our expansion. Second, the journey has confirmed the importance of gut-wrenching self-admission. So many of us hide our light under a bushel of shame, reluctant to show ourselves to the world for fear of being judged. But there can be no locked doors on the journey home. Admitting who we are is essential to our salvation. Everything has to be exposed. By exposing what lives inside of us, we liberate our own voice, and give others permission to self-reveal as well.
Next, the journey has reinforced my belief in unity consciousness. It is not just cliché—we really are all connected. Although many of the details are different, the essential threads of our humanity are remarkably similar: similar suffering, similar inner challenges, a shared longing for true-path. We are in this, together. We are this, together. Finally, it confirms that each of us is here with a profound purpose, however humble or simple it may appear. Growers are inchworms—real change takes time. But every little soul step we take is divine perspiration, shaping the individual and collective soul to the next stage of its evolution. I encourage you to do all that you can to overcome whatever obstacles you face on your path to truth. The path home is not always easy—the School of Heart Knocks is ever-challenging—but it is the only path worth taking. Your unique soul-scriptures live at the heart of you, lying in wait for their opportunity to be humanifest. They may be covered in dust, they may be hidden from view, but they are still there, still sparkling with infinite possibility. If my work can help to remind you, then it has served its purpose. I offer it with gratitude.