What are you holding onto? What have you encapsulated? Some thought, idea, perception that you think belongs to you when in fact it is not yours to carry? Perhaps you are unconsciously protecting someone else, burdening yourself out of fear for another, out of empathy, out of guilt? Everyone must live out their own life, their own mistakes, their own karma. Everyone carries something with them into life that defines them, something they alone must face and resolve. A true warrior attends to the personal karmic issues with unbending intent and reaches toward the personal potential with nerves of steel, simultaneously allowing others to do the same. This requires a certain degree of detachment, but it is detachment with utter dedication to a path of heart as the only true path. It involves awakening the deepest of love and kindness and the knowledge that the only way a warrior will achieve karmic resolve is by walking that personal path of heart and by facing those karmic issues personally. It involves knowing that everyone is a warrior and that life must be allowed to unfold along its karmic path in order for each warrior to resolve and evolve. But most importantly, do it all with love. That’s the warrior’s way.
Guilt is the emotional consequence of knowing, on some level, that we are not the mask we portray ourselves to be in the world. We are guilty because we know we fail to meet the standard of perfection. We are aware of our inferiority and our darkness hidden within.
Actually, this knowing is a saving grace, because despite having to suffer the torture of guilt, we are owning the existence of our dark side. We encounter and suffer inwardly the dilemma that in a less conscious individual is only known through the disowned projection of one’s dark side onto a scapegoat that reflects the hidden darkness within. In projection, guilt is avoided because the real problem is projected “out there.” It can be eliminated and controlled by imprisoning or killing off the bad guy “out there.”
Our time is rife with mass projections of evil onto Muslims, Mexicans, African Americans, women, Democrats, Republicans, Jews, Palestinians; the list is endless. The world is currently completely divided into separatist camps that see themselves as morally superior to all others. They completely project their inferior dark side onto some other camp “out there.”
The preponderance of these polarized camps in our time is the surface repercussion of a more deeply brewing clash between the collective unconscious that contains all our darkness with the idealized moral superior values that our egos identify with in our religions and modernistic lifestyles. Would that the collective consciousness of the world could feel guilty, that is, own more fully and grapple with the true depth of its nature versus continually locating it outside where it destroys its neighbor and the world in order to be delivered from its own evil.
Unfortunately, though the world must arrive at this deeper truth to survive now, it is the individual that must lead the world in this task. The individual who faces their own shadow is the advance guard of a transformed world. On the other hand, how fortunate that every individual who faces the true depth of their own shadow advances the world on its path of survival. How empowering!
How do we own our shadow? How do we resolve our guilt? To begin with, as long as we only identify ourselves as light beings, or as beings who must be purified of or relieved of our own darkness, we will always suffer guilt. As Erich Neumann states:
“Just as light cannot be extinguished by the superior power of darkness, so too there is no evidence to show that darkness can ever be abolished by any superior power on the part of light.” *
Light requires the contrast of shadow to be defined; dark requires the contrast of light to be known. One cannot be separated from the other and be whole. The two are inextricably opposite sides of the same wholeness.
Human beings are beings of light in their spirit, as reflected in mental processes and consciousness. Human beings are beings of darkness in the depths of their instinctual, animal natures. Spirit beings could not be in this world without their animal bodies. Animal and spirit are inextricably linked in a partnership in this world, saddled with the challenge of developing a relationship which acknowledges and finds life for both animal and spirit.
If we identify with an ethic that says passion and pleasure are evil, we will suffer guilt. Our wounded animal self will torture, ad nauseum, our morally superior controlling ego with depression and “bad” fantasy. We must abandon this old ethic. Our new ethic must grant the human animal its basic human right: The right to pursue happiness. With this gesture, our spirit consciousness acknowledges its animal partner, though the challenge of true integration and reconciliation with the fullness of who we are is indeed the greatest human challenge.
Guilt can be relieved when we accept that the animal hungers, lusts, and rages. The fact that the animal has these experiences does not make it bad; it simply makes it a human animal.
Of course, it is equally appropriate for its spirit counterpart to require of the animal a bit of refinement and restraint. Once the animal energies can find satisfaction and expression, with conscious consent and collaboration that allows for a fuller expression of all that we are, we advance.
What ultimately will relieve us of our guilt, is to embrace a new human ethic: Integrated wholeness versus perfection based on suppression or repression of the animal—that which has led us to our current status: a crumbling civilization with its discontents!
May we all herald in this new ethic, beyond guilt, as brave pioneers taking full responsibility for our individual wholeness in our interdependent one world.
Going beyond, Chuck
* Reference: Erich Neumann, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, p. 46.
Note: I am grateful to Erich Neumann and his book, Depth Psychology and a New Ethic, which has inspired much of this blog.
Beings on the other side are trying to get our attention all the time. Jeanne has told us this numerous times and Chuck recently read me a passage from Robert Monroe’s Far Journeys insinuating the same thing.
“What if a fly pestering us is just another being trying to get our attention?” Chuck wondered.
That same day, as I took an early morning walk, a fly appeared. My earlier conversation with Chuck immediately came to mind. Was this a being attempting contact? The fly pestered me, buzzing in my face.
“Okay,” I said to the fly. “What are you trying to tell me?” It bumped repeatedly into my forehead, right at the level of the third eye. “Stay connected to my psychic self, to my intuitive perceptions? Okay, I will!” And with that the fly buzzed off and I was left in peace.
Later that morning, I struggled with having to do a chore that I felt obligated to do, mostly out of guilt. Was it right to do, or was it just my guilt driving me to do it? I waited. Something didn’t feel right. A part of me implied that waiting was the right action. Every time I thought about this chore I paused; I waited.
After a while, I flipped a coin. Was I being avoidant or should I just do the chore? The coin said no, don’t do it. Should I do it later in the day? I asked the coin. No, don’t do it later, the coin answered. Should I do it at noon? I finally asked. No, the coin said. It seemed that no matter what I asked the answer was going to be no.
I am aware that there is a part of me that knows things that my conscious self does not know. This part doesn’t act hastily. I’ve learned to pay attention though, because it has proven to be right on so many occasions. The fly that had buzzed in my face earlier in the day was reminding me of this part of myself, the psychic self, a part that we all have. It’s just waiting for us to discover it, just as the passage we were reading in Monroe’s book suggested that other beings are trying to get our attention too.
I resolved to pay attention to the message from the fly, to my psychic self, and the coin. I didn’t act. I just waited. In a little while, the reason for waiting came. I didn’t have to do the chore because someone else, who really should have done it, phoned to let me know it would be done.
Had I done it out of guilt I would have pandered to an old part of myself. Instead I sat in the uncomfortable tension of waiting and faced my reasons for feeling guilty. In the end, I discovered that had I acted impulsively, just doing what I normally do out of guilt, I would have been guilty of an old behavior! Instead, I felt so relieved that I didn’t, that I paid attention to the fly, to the coin and to what my psyche was telling me. In the end, by waiting I experienced what the fly seemed to be insinuating, guidance IS available if you are open to the experience of it.
In the end, I learned two things: to listen to my psychic self and that guilt is no guide!
WARNING: Please note, as the title suggests, this blog contains adult content that may be disturbing. If you are in the midst of doing deep work it may be too uncomfortable. Please don’t read it if you feel you may be triggered.
By the time the second year of my recapitulation journey began I was confronting some very deep truths. I’d already recalled hundreds of visceral memories of rape, sodomy, and other forms of sexual assault, as well as deep emotional trauma. As hard as the memories were to accept, my psyche would not let me refuse them. I had to face what was coming through. Here is what I wrote on July 1, 2002:
The memories come like bombs, fast and furious, explosions taking place in my own private war zone. As the bombing missions fly overhead I crouch down and hide, shielding myself from their impact, but in so doing I know I’m refusing to connect with what’s being triggered at a deeper level. I catch a glimpse of something new as each memory bomb explodes, but I still refuse to fully accept what was truly happening to my child self. Jolted, the frightened self turns away, though it’s practically impossible to do so, for the pains are almost constant now, present throughout the day; my hands numb, my shoulders tense, my genitals sore and painful. I don’t have a choice in how this recapitulation process is unfolding—just as I never had a choice when I was a child—it’s just happening. I know what a frightened little bunny feels like; heart beating so hard you’d think it might burst.
On that same day, I went deeper still and confronted what was really being presented as my next challenge. I just couldn’t ignore it:
I admit that I’m avoiding the stark truth that my abuser was having sex, in one form or another, with a very small child, and that child was me. It’s been the hardest part of this recapitulation to accept. Even while excavating all the pieces of the puzzle of the unknown self over the past year and discovering the mysterious, hidden world of my childhood I wasn’t always able to face what my abuser was actually doing to me. Now as new memories torpedo into awareness, the truth presents itself all over again, but each time I admit that he was indeed having sex with my tiny child self, overwhelming feelings of guilt and shame come tumbling out of the depths of me. At the same time, I know I won’t be able refuse the blatant truth. I must fully accept what was truly happening so long ago, and my body insists, not letting me rest until I do. As soon as I lie down in bed at night and curl up to go to sleep, it all hits me again. Fear, pain, and the desperation of my child self come crashing out of nowhere, searing through my body like shrapnel. Much as I’d like to, I can’t really avoid the bombs. Even if I sit down on the couch for a few minutes of respite during a busy day it’s the same thing: BOOM! BOOM! BOOM! The memory bombs go off and all I want to do is run, to look for safe places to hide, to keep moving, ducking and dodging the incessant attacks, but I know it’s not productive, nor is it really possible.
So shame and guilt arose from my deeper self and came to teach me my next lessons. I confronted the supposed bad self, the self who thought she was at fault and to blame for what happened, and the self who felt so guilty for partaking. By the end of the second year I confronted just how attached I was to those elements of shame and guilt, for they defined me, who I had always been, showing me just how deeply embedded they were in my psyche and just how attached I, a little Catholic school girl, had been—and still was—to their bitter presence. Almost a year later, on June 2, 2003, as I prepared to finally release myself from their cloying attachment, gaining even deeper insight, I wrote the following:
Aware that I’ve just barely stayed in control, by force of will and old habit, I admit to myself that I don’t really want to be the old self anymore. I don’t want to “hold on” or “hang in there.” Physically, I’m exhausted and I’m fairly sure I’ll be unable to keep up this charade much longer. I’m wearing down.
“Try for stillness. Go for stillness,” I hear Jeanne saying.
I barely remember concluding last week that I do indeed need stillness—unhurried, unstressed, quiet living—and a break from this torture. I hoard my feelings, afraid that when they’re gone I won’t have anything left inside me and yet this is my torture as well. At this point, it still feels far better, and safer, to retain my stand, though the children in my dream (from last week’s blog) want me to be a feeling being. Their disappointment was clear as I passed them by and drove on toward the house of fear and emptiness, rather than greet them with equal joy. If I let go, I fear that all that keeps me connected to life will go too, that all my desperate attempts to align myself somewhere in this world will disappear. Maybe I don’t need to try so hard, as Chuck constantly tells me, but there’s a part of me that cannot abide the idea of not being in control, the thought alone sending me into a place of deep shame and anxiety. I know that such deep shame stems from my upbringing, for it was expected that I handle everything so expertly, without a show of emotion; coolly, without expressing needs or desires of any kind. Rather than be scolded, I found it far easier to be the unemotional being that I was so often reprimanded to be. I deduced that to want affection and love were shameful weaknesses to be avoided at all costs, though I harbored a secret desire for them. I was a child full of what I considered shameful thoughts, desiring simple human touch and affection. And yet I do not blame my child self for such basic human needs. She needs to know that it’s perfectly acceptable to want and need simple affection, to know that it’s allowed and necessary. Love is allowed. It is, isn’t it? An epiphany: Love is allowed! Wanting to be loved is allowed too!
The whole idea of needing and expressing love, tenderness, and affection was presented as something shameful: don’t even go there, don’t touch or be touched, it’s disgusting! This is what I was taught at home. Emotions are disgusting; expressing them is disgusting, letting anyone know you have emotions or feelings is strictly forbidden. No touching, no gentleness, no love was exchanged between parent and child, perhaps very rarely a pat on the head, maybe, if I was sick. No hugs, no kisses, no emotional support. Such an unemotional upbringing is wrong. To make a person feel so ashamed and so emotionally isolated is wrong. To deprive another of the most basic of human needs is wrong.
On top if it, I had to deal with my abuser, but I see where his abusive affections, as perverted as they were, tapped into that void created by my upbringing. Even though his type of affection was totally aberrant, I wouldn’t have known that as a child. I had nothing to compare it to. Perhaps I was drawn to him as much as he was drawn to me. I was trapped coming and going. I had no choice. I was a child living in a family completely devoid of human touch and emotions, the most basic of which were squelched at an early age. And then I walked into a family where they took their clothes off and touched each other all over the place, where feelings I never knew existed inside me were drawn out. And then I had to go back to my own family, which, with its cold, distant, and strict Victorian morals was as insidiously abusive and bizarre as my abuser’s family. And all I ever wanted was for someone to simply love me, just for who I was. I just want to be loved for me; that’s all. I see how easily a young child, starved for affection, could be confused and tricked by the attentions of a pedophile.
And so, as I followed where my psyche led me, pushed me, and often times forced me to go, I gained valuable insights. New ideas began to replace old ideas. Old themes that had defined me began to crumble. In that crumbling came new life. I gradually learned to take with me only what truly belonged to me, only what I truly believed about myself and life in general. I learned how to shush up the old voices and how to release my child self from her unemotional upbringing. I learned how to love that child self, as I taught her what I was learning. Having been apart for much of the recapitulation journey, we now joined forces more often. We now knew there was more to life and more to us that had to be discovered and lived.
By the end of the second year of recapitulation I was transforming rapidly. I had burned a lot of stuff that didn’t belong to me, and I was emerging from the ashes a new being. I was evolving in a very personally relevant way. Freed of what I felt I had to uphold—an old world that I no longer fit into—I was becoming the real me.
Thank you for reading. I send love and wishes for good journeying,