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
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…
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)
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)
JUDGMENT IS BAD (wow, that was a judgment !) (The anti-judgment mantra)
Wisdom: Judgment has been a divisive and destructive force, often wielded as a weapon against those deemed different. It separates us, it undermines us, it perpetuates a dualistic framework of perception that fractures rather than heals. It is one of the primary roots of the poisonous tree. It is essential that we become conscious of our own judgmental tendencies and seek a more compassionate approach. Compassion is a much healthier and more productive path, one that enheartens humanity and brings us into connection with each other.
Perils: In its extreme forms, the anti-judgment mantra can actually perpetuate the dualistic madness it seeks to avoid by nullifying one’s freedom of thought and expression. It becomes a spiritual bypass mechanism, one where individuals repress valid and fair-minded perceptions because they fear that they are being “judgmental” toward others. When this happens, the individual becomes split between an unactualized inner knowing and an adaptation to an externally influenced “idea” of appropriate behavior. The anti-judgment mantra often works to the benefit of those who are seeking to repress freedom of expression and deflect personal responsibility for their own actions.
Grounded Perspective: To make a distinction between arbitrary, malicious judgment and grounded, intuition honouring, meaning-based discernment. The former destroys, the latter honors our intuition and supports our efforts to create a healthier reality. Not everything fits with who we are, or who we are becoming. The important thing is to enhearten our processes of discernment so that we are both honouring our own right to choose and emanating from a compassionate source spring. In other words, to do the least harm when we are making distinctions between what resonates and what doesn’t.
DESIRE/ATTACHMENT IS THE ENEMY OF A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL LIFE
Wisdom: For those of us who are so lost in our desires/attachments that we cannot stop getting in our own way, there is value in this extreme perspective. To be sure, there are times when well-boundaried detachment is necessary: when we need to be reminded of something beyond our localized lens, when we need a peek into a vaster reality, when we need to distinguish between that which serves us and that which derails us. Some of us need to detach from our desires in an extreme fashion in order to recognize/heal our pain bodies and come back to centre. This is particularly true for those with addictive patterns, and those unable to break destructive relational cycles.
Perils: When not implemented in a balanced manner, this perspective dissociates us from the heart of spiritual life- our felt experience. One of the rancid prongs of the spiritual bypass movement, the anti-attachment mantra becomes a technique for self-avoidance that can go too far, inviting seekers to define spirituality in heady, disembodied terms. Radical detachers often end up manifesting as automatons, seemingly calm and reasonable but not integrated in their humanness, a bubbling cauldron of repressed and unresolved feelings and memories.
Grounded Perspective: Selective attachment is the middle way. In the context of Soulshaping, ‘selective attachment’ is the process of sifting everything through an essential filter, connecting only to those experiences and relationships that support true-path. If something fits, we bring it on. If it doesn’t, we stay away. We embrace the idea that certain desires and attachments are healthy and soul-affirming under the right circumstances: How will we learn our lessons if we do not get involved? What is wrong with pleasure as a path? And we embrace the idea that non-attachment is the right path at other times: Why stay connected in the heart of unbearable suffering? Is separation not essential to individuation? Although we embrace the value of detachment practices as essential to the journey, the grounded perspective recognizes that to live in perpetual detachment is to miss the moment altogether. It is to trip out of the body that carries the karmic seeds for our transformation. It is to leave earth before our time. At some point, we need to come back down into our bodies and our personal identifications and work with what lives inside of us. Not identifying ourselves as our stuff, but identifying our stuff as a key to our transformation.
THE ULTIMATE GOAL OF SPIRITUAL LIFE IS (something called) ‘ENLIGHTENMENT’
Wisdom: Healthily characterized and construed, the quest for enlightenment is a noble path, reminding us that we have access to a wondrous and vast consciousness.
Perils: Although enlightenment has been broadly defined in the spiritual literature, it is often interpreted as a kind of pure consciousness; a 'heightened' and purified state of being that is detached from our everyday concerns. In its own way, this interpretation can actually invite us away from the karmic field of expansion itself- our daily life. On my journey, I have been exposed to all manner of definition- enlightenment as seen through the eyes of the head-tripper (mind as path), the bliss-seeker (en’light’enment= fleeing the pain-body, pleasure as path), the radical detacher (bypass as path), the all-knowing guru. Unfortunately, the head-tripper has removed the heart from the equation, the bliss-seeker mistakes the delights of self-avoidance for wholeness, the radical detacher has left the planet, and the all-knowing guru is usually too egoically bloated to taste from the tree of enlightenment. Its fruits only fall on those who have the good sense to know how little they know.
Grounded Perspective: A more grounded and balanced perspective would invite all aspects of the human experience into the equation. I prefer the term “Enrealment”, fundamental to my understanding of Soulshaping as path. Enrealment is the quest for a more inclusive consciousness, one that makes no distinction between our spiritual and earthly lives. It is about living in all aspects of reality simultaneously rather than only those realms that feel the most comfortable. Instead of tripping out of our earthly experience to find God, we find God everywhere – shadow and light, subtle and gross realms, grocery list and unity consciousness. Through this lens, spirituality is just another word for reality. The more authentically connected we are to all elements of reality, the more spiritual our experience. Be Real Now. Entirety as path..
Jeff Brown, Author of Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation (www.soulshaping.com)
EXPRESSING ANGER IS NOT SPIRITUAL AND NOT WELCOME
Wisdom– For obvious reasons, discouraging the inappropriate expression of anger is wise. In our efforts to shift from an animalistic to a civilized world, it has been necessary to put various laws and judgments in place around anger to ensure that others are protected.
Perils– In a mad dash to react away from the perils of anger, we went too far and lost a key piece of the emotional integrity and expression cycle. Anger is a legitimate emotion that signals that a person has been violated. By discouraging and shaming its organic experience/expression, we actually disrupt natural emotional rhythms and encourage inauthentic ways of being. In addition, repressing the emotions simply keeps the anger alive. The negativity goes underground, manifesting in a myriad of destructive forms, including passive aggressiveness, self-destructive behaviour and all manner of disease. By not saying “f*#k you,” we have f*#ked ourselves. In addition, the world improves when people experience/express legitimate anger because it communicates a message that certain things that are happening are not acceptable. As we move towards a higher collective vibration, appropriate anger shows us injustices that would not have even been noticed in earlier times. If we fully condemn healthy anger, we condemn ourselves to endure realities that are not healthy or forward-moving.
Grounded Perspective– Anger is no less spiritual than any other legitimate emotion. Spirituality simply means reality, and an inclusive spiritual experience includes access to a broad and vital range of authentic emotional states and avenues of expression. The important thing is to honor its wisdom and meaning in ways that are appropriate and not physically threatening. This can certainly include healthy and direct communication of anger (verbal, written, legal, boundary assertion etc.), and can also include various methods of embodied release. The important thing is to be true to the emotions, without doing needless harm.
EVERYTHING YOU DISLIKE IN ANOTHER IS A REFLECTION OF A PART OF YOU AND/OR SOMETHING YOU DISLIKE IN YOURSELF (‘The Mirror Defence’)
Wisdom– Understood properly, this perspective invites us to recognize the often reflective nature of reality. Quite often, our reaction to another is a projected response that is sourced in our own emotional material and patterns. Perhaps there is something in our response that can help us to better understand ourselves. For example, you may dislike someone’s passive aggressiveness because you are actually passive aggressive and you don’t want that reflected back to you.
Perils– When misused, the ‘mirror bypass’ invites us away from reality- the truth of how we really feel about someone’s characteristics/actions. Even if their characteristics are similar to our own, this doesn’t mean that we like those characteristics or have to embrace them in another. Quite often, this perspective is used as a defence against accountability by wrong-doers, who expertly shift the focus away from their own actions by turning the mirror back on those they have wronged “Look! It’s not me you dislike, It’s you!” Trickster gurus are particularly adept at these techniques. The guru claims that his (questionable) actions were not actually for his own benefit but done with the conscious intention of reflecting back to you the unresolved aspects of your own consciousness. If you felt betrayed, it was because you have issues around betrayal that you need to look at. *Try hitting on the guru’s girlfriend, and see what he says then.
Grounded Perspective– It is always good to consider the possibility that our reaction to another is sourced in our own projections and unresolved issues. At the same time, it is also perfectly fine to dislike something in another that does not resonate with who we are or with what we value. Yes, we can respect everyone’s right to be who they are, while also honouring our right to dislike some/all of their characteristics. We can also make the presumption of essence in everyone we meet- seeing individuals as fellow souls traveling through time- while simultaneously accepting that we don’t enjoy hanging out with their incarnation .
WE ARE “ALL-ONE”/DUALITY IS THE ENEMY OF A HEALTHY SPIRITUAL LIFE
Wisdom: Lost to the overwhelm and fragmentation of daily life, many of us forget that there is a unified field of consciousness beyond our localized awareness. We get trapped in our monkey mind, our neurotic anxieties, our sense of alienation from our environment and other people. The All-Oneness movement invites us to nestle into this vaster consciousness, to reach beyond limiting dualities and recognize our connection to an intertwined and interdependent network of expansion. This perspective is particularly helpful to those who are over-contained and rigidly boundaried, and unable to feel connected to anything ‘outside’ themselves.
Perils: When taken too far, the “All-One” Mantra can become a recipe for radical detachment and self-avoidance. Instead of recognizing our divine purpose and doing the individual work to actually become more connected and unified, seekers jump ship and swim in the vaster ocean, where they drown (together) in their unresolveds. One of the more complicated prongs of the spiritual bypass movement, the All-oneness mantra often removes the ego, body and emotional life from its vision of wholeness. In other words, it’s only All-One if it feels good. No shadows or hard shoes allowed on the dance floor, just light and easy dance moves. Not so much All-One, as All-Fun. Quite often, the spiritual bypass community encourages us to 'oneness' before we have a 'self' to come home to. Its backwards. We need to grow into a recognition of our individual significance before we can truly understand and surrender to our connection to unit y.
Grounded Perspective: There’s a sacred balance between our experience of unity consciousness and our connection to our individual path in the heart of it-separate voices inextricably woven through a choir of unified light. Yes, we are inextricably woven together, intertwined with the divine, connected with other, with the natural world, with the universe that sources this incarnation. But we’re not identical to everything and not everything is a perfect reflection of our unique self. Each of us has a unique and significant role to play in the heart of this universal dance. Divine Purpose, the true-path that is embedded in the bones of our being, cries out to be excavated and humanifest. When we embody our divine purpose, we shape the individual and collective soul to the next stage in its movement towards wholeness. The idea that we are all "one" takes on a whole new meaning when we find our unique place in the heart of it and interact with unity from an individuated and clarified purpose. It is an irony of the All-one movement that they often forget the need for individual experience/development in creating a non-dualistic reality (We are not attached at the waist for a reason). The more deeply we grow in our individual spirituality, the more genuine is our experience of unity. The healthier the individual consciousness, the healthier the collective. Although there is a dark side to duality, there is also a perfect side- the separate strands are where we do the work and a breeding ground for the soul’s expansion. We heal the dualities by honouring them and learning the lessons intrinsic to their form. To let go of duality, we must first establish our separateness. To truly taste from unity, we must learn where we end and the other begins.
Jeff Brown, Author of Soulshaping: A Journey of Self-Creation (www.soulshaping.com)