Proceed with cautious optimism, aware of the trickery and deceit that are sure to follow a loss. Do not blame or scorn another but look inward to rectify and straighten out your own inner house, knowing that that which unfolds outside of you is merely a mirror of your own inner world. Do what needs doing within and soon things will come to a calm peacefulness without as well. As within, so without.
In a nutshell, archetypes are the inherent programs that govern the behaviors of a species. Human archetypal programs rely heavily upon attachment and interaction to complete the inner circuitry of the growing child.
For instance, attachment to and attention from a loving parent figure are critical to the establishment of basic security in a growing child. The quality of these interactions will impact neural pathways in the brain that will reflect in the cognitive, emotional, and behavioral development of the child. For instance, a neglected child may precociously exercise conservative survival circuitry, whereas a more well-attended child might branch more comfortably into curious interaction with the outside world.
The legacy of incomplete development of brain circuitry at critical periods in life results in one becoming biologically older while remaining emotionally and cognitively younger than one’s physical age. Human adaptive ingenuity frequently develops compensatory strategies to work around such limitations imposed by incomplete circuits.
Thus, for instance, a neglected individual might seek a special relationship with an alternative parental figure to compensate for needed attention. Another strategy might be to utilize one’s own body to provide soothing, via rocking or thumbsucking behaviors.
Generally, one develops a persona, or outer self presentation, that varies significantly with how one knows oneself inwardly. This gives rise to a sense of being a ‘false self’ or living an ‘imposter syndrome’. Often, the hope in romantic relationships is to receive the longed for attention and validation from one’s partner that can provide a bridge to the completion of unfinished or malformed circuitry.
In the honeymoon stage of most relationships, partners glimpse such an idyllic experience of being loved and valued as they truly are. This reprieve from a more limited sense of self can result in a dependence upon reinforcement of one’s worth by one’s partner, as the actual internal transformation into a different sense of self has not occurred.
This predicament generally ends the honeymoon period of a relationship, as the symbiotic oneness of the couple evolves into contentious separateness, as individual selves with personal needs emerge. This is the very familiar course of most relationships that become polarized and lose the glow of their former promise.
Couples who can be vulnerable enough to reveal their truer sense of selves, versus projecting blame upon their partners for inadequate responsiveness, may be able to actually provide an emotionally corrective experience that could help facilitate the creation of new circuitry.
The key here is transparency. One must be able to be completely transparent to all that one is, to one’s own self. Beyond this is the ability to be equally transparent in owning and sharing one’s true self with one’s partner. This is a monumental feat, to accept the fullness of one’s own shadow and share it with one’s partner. That’s intimacy.
Nonetheless, the lion’s share of that possibility requires deep inner work, with each individual decidedly working toward their own inner self-acceptance. No outer relationship can supplant one’s own inner conviction of non-acceptability.
Ultimately, beyond childhood, the completion of inner circuitry rests in the inner work of every individual. Fortunately, all individuals have a higher self that orchestrates life events to challenge the ego to take this daring restorative journey to the wholeness of completed circuitry.
This journey can take many forms. As a psychotherapist and shamanic practitioner I am a huge proponent of this journey of individuation via dreams, synchronicity, and recapitulation. On the physical side, I highly recommend yoga. Yogic knowledge of bodily and subtle body functioning is unsurpassed.
The regular practice of pranayamic breathing literally changes the automatic central nervous system’s reactions to subconscious programs, such that it can override a fear reaction with deep calm. Equipped with such leverage the individual is afforded greater tolerance and opportunity to carve new circuitry, as they encounter a long-held trigger.
Similarly, meditation, aided by simple neurofeedback or biofeedback equipment, can empower one to develop direct mastery over one’s brainwave state, enhancing the ability to heal disjointed circuitry. These body focused practices greatly enhance mental and relational efforts to change.
Archetypal completion is the necessary mandate to heal and forge our deepest connections. Inner work, relational work, and bodily mastery all offer tools and venues to achieve such completion. Completion then becomes the solid foundation of fulfillment in human form.
The key to actualizing our human potential is energy. If you have enough energy you can do just about anything. Recognizing the value of conserving and retrieving energy, shamans discovered that the human being’s most lethal energy drain is offense. Being offended, by anything and everything, costs humans the lion’s share of their vital energy.
When we feel offended by the words and deeds of others we have emotional reactions, like anger, fear, and resentment that tax the central nervous system. We lose our balance, as we become emotionally charged, seeking relief in some kind of action. Often, obsessive thinking continues to replay the offense, which sustains and feeds this state of emotional tension.
Is it possible to have an objective reaction to another’s offensive behavior without being personally offended? Yes, through gaining conscious control of our instinctive emotional reactions and deciding, on the mental plane, to not be offended by the behavior of others, regardless of how ruthless it might be.
Who could forget Robert De Niro’s “Are you talking to me?” in the movie Taxi Driver? Instinctively, we feel the growing tension of his mounting anger, as he incessantly repeats this famous line. Truthfully, many are drawn to such unabashed expressions of rage and contempt, which vicariously satisfies our own unexpressed rage and resentment.
Now, if Robert De Niro had simply walked away, the movie would have flopped. On the other hand, if we want to start saving our vital energy, we must be willing to let go of the many dramas our internal dialogue ignites through its constant interpretation of offense, throughout our everyday lives.
This is not to say that there is not significant horrific behavior that must be addressed. At issue is the subjective state of offense that accompanies one’s reactions to those behaviors. One can assess a situation and decide upon a course of action, unencumbered by emotional reaction. In fact, this is a core teaching of all martial arts.
When one becomes emotionally offended by an opponent’s move, one loses one’s edge, fights poorly, and generally loses. As in shamanism, in the martial arts the key to success is to not become attached —offended— by one’s opponent’s behavior. The objective is to stay present to what is and completely conserve one’s energy in order to be fully engaged in one’s most efficient counter response.
In fact, when one becomes offended one actually gifts the opponent one’s own energy. Offense can lead to hopelessness, powerlessness, and surrender, as one’s vital energy reserves become depleted. Bullying behavior is actually a strategy to catch one’s opponent in the net of offense, weakening their game. Muhammed Ali was a striking example of such tactical behavior leading up to a fight, as he would mercilessly insult and demean his opponents.
Instinctive reactions can be, and often are, life saving. What we take as an instinctive reaction, however, is very frequently the ego’s decision to be offended, whereby calling forth the troops of passionate reactions to exact retribution, in some form. This is a hybrid, instinctive reaction that serves only the ego, not the true needs of the self.
Ego must learn to be a servant to the true needs of the whole self, rather than just its own self-aggrandizement. Even if the ego has been directly insulted, the ego must consider the energetic impact on its central nervous system, and its energy reserves, before determining its course of action.
If the ego faces the fact that we live in a world where life feeds upon life, it can come around to the fact that we live in a predatory universe and not get offended by it. Of course, this does not stop our need to defend ourselves, but how much stronger and more clearheaded we would be if we didn’t burden ourselves with being offended.
When the shamans speak of detachment, they are targeting what we typically judge to be offensive behavior. They promote inner silence to avoid offensive dramas when navigating oncoming time, to best be prepared to respond appropriately, with the least taxing of our energetic reserves. Inner silence entails quieting the mind, pulling into the heart center, and waiting patiently for the guidance that shows us how to act in a way that is truly right.
In addition, they recommend a thorough recapitulation of one’s relationships in life, particularly circumstances that left one feeling offended. Recapitulation frees one’s energy stored away in offense, but also frees one from being triggered by current circumstances that reflect one’s unresolved past.
The truth is that there are highly sadistic, abusive people who commit horrific acts. Recapitulation does not change this fact, but it does free one from draining one’s vital energy by being eternally offended by them. Detachment means accepting the truth of what was, and fully harnessing one’s freed energy to be redeployed in new life.
I send out the intent for unbending detachment, as we collectively advance our world into new life, beyond offense.
The central question of our time is the future of our world. We are at an obvious transition point, as we grapple with a virus that has fundamentally challenged every aspect of the way we live. Though there be a wide range of opinion on how to proceed, the challenge to every individual’s core sense of security is undeniable.
When I was a young boy, I badly bungled my attempts to memorize my catechism, nearly costing me entree into sacramental rites. However, one thing I never got wrong: God is everywhere and everything. There is nothing that exists that is not God.
From this perspective, everything that exists, from virus to world leaders, are part of that same Oneness often referred to as God. If we accept the notion that we are all part of the divine, we should consider checking our projective tendency to vilify and demonize any part of our collective Oneness.
On the other hand, the current state of our world is such that there are such divisive and opposing viewpoints that, for either side, there is great difficulty seeing the divinity in the other. Perhaps a perspective that views the world as needing to dance through an extreme cosmic upheaval, and remain standing at the end, can free us from our hatred and depression.
Indeed, if my catechism was correct, we are, as a world, suffering one of the infinite permutations of possibility that exists in the infinite journey we are all on. From the place of equanimity, let us not wish it away or dismiss it but instead, live it fully.
The Hindu holy book, known as The Bhagavad Gita, addresses the dilemma the world currently grapples with. In this epic, a war between royals in the same family is being fought. Arjuna, fighter for one side is counseled by, Krishna, a Hindu equivalent to Christ, who tells him he must fight to fulfill his warrior duty to uphold the cosmic law of selfless action.
Selfless action means acting without attachment to gain or outcome, simply doing what one feels is right. From that perspective all players have the duty to live out their individual truths. The outcome of such a play is in no way guaranteed, other than it reflects the full meeting of these felt truths.
Truths that are actually veiled distortions inevitably peel away, as they cannot be sustained by the greater truth, which must, of necessity, emerge as the true victor. In this process, the divine is refined and purified. On a pragmatic level, balance is restored to the world, as it finds secure footing.
That which peels away in this molting process must be thoroughly valued as warriors critical to evolution. We don’t always get to play the hero, but without the antagonist there is no story. For evolution to proceed that which once held the truth must surrender to tomorrow’s new reality.
Thus, Love the ‘Other’ as Thyself. Like Arjuna, play your part, no attachment to the outcome other than that it be the greater truth, for now. Appreciate all that lifts us beyond inertia, as collectively we refine our shared Divinity.
When criticizing others don’t forget to look at the self and find the same criticisms. For that which is in others is also in the self. That which you find unnerving or frightening in the actions, language, or ideas of another lies also within the shadows of the self. For all are the same in the inner world; angel and devil, light and dark, good and evil. This is the universal duality that all suffer. Whether repressed or not, it is present in all beings. Resolution comes in knowing this and deciding which path is the right path of heart. The path of compassion or the path of hate? The path of equanimity or the path of disruption? The path of ego or the path of spirit? In the inner world there is always work to do. As within, so without. Change begins with you.