Tag Archives: reconciliation of opposites

Soulbyte for Wednesday August 29, 2018

Strive to reconcile the difficulties within the self, the mind speak that captivates, directs, and discerns, that both discourages and encourages. All sides are part of life and yet life needs no sides, for in the flow of life all sides are equal and of equal importance. Find reconciliation in simply breathing in acceptance of all that is and breathing out all that is difficult. Let your breath remind you that you are human and spirit. Reconcile first with that and then see what happens. Just breathe.

-From the Soul Sisters, Jan & Jeanne

The Thief Who Lives Inside Me

There is a thief who lives inside me. She’s quiet and stealthy, good at what she does. She used to steal little things, a comb or a lipstick from the drug store, instinctively knowing how to slide it up her sleeve slowly and covertly, like a magician hiding a sword. She never got caught stealing little things, nor did she do it that often, only when in the company of other equally daring teenagers. When I was a grown up, in my twenties and living and working in Stockholm, Sweden as a freelance artist, the thief inside me returned from wherever she’d been hanging out and struck again.

I was working on a project with the Creative Director of a large international advertising agency. He was American, newly hired to take over the small but busy office in downtown Stockholm. I was a freelance artist and had been introduced to him through an acquaintance. I did the work that was required and submitted my bill. The honest perfectionist inside me, always careful to follow directions, noticed that at the bottom of the detailed instructions for submitting a bill was the statement to “submit two copies.” So I did. A few weeks later I got paid, and it was a substantial sum for those days; the advertising world always paid well. Then, a week later, I got a second check in the mail. How could this be? Were they paying me double, once for the sketches, as was common, and once for the final artwork, or was this a result of the request to submit two copies of the bill, as I had so dutifully done?

I approached the Creative Director, letting him know that I was confused. Why did I get paid twice? He couldn’t make heads or tails of it. “It’s just a mistake,” he finally said. New to the position and perhaps not wanting to be seen making mistakes, he told me to just ignore it, to keep the money, as it would be too hard to undo. It bothered me, but I kept the money, or the thief inside me did, or both of us did. I felt guilty about it for a long time and a lot of energy was lost to the stress of wondering if the company would come after me to return the money. Nothing happened. Eventually, I surmised that the company never realized their mistake. I breathed a sigh of relief and the thief inside me settled back down into her hideout.

I can’t say I haven’t seen her since, though I did make a pact with myself after that to try and be more honest. It’s harder than you think. What do you do when someone gives you the wrong change, when an item you are buying doesn’t get scanned at the cash register, when someone makes a mistake that benefits you, even just a little? There were minor incidences over the years when I would take what was provided, or not. Sometimes I’d feel justified that the universe must want me to have something, that someone else’s mistake was my gain. After all, it wasn’t my fault if someone wasn’t paying attention. But then I recapitulated and things changed.

In recapitulation I confronted the thief who lives inside me, remembered all the times she stole something, took something, got away with something. As I said, she was good at what she did and she never got caught, though I would suffer knowing that I took something that did not really belong to me, no matter the circumstances of how it landed in my hands. We met face to face in recapitulation, consciously and deliberately. I could not ignore her nor simply expel her from my life; she’s as much a part of me as my honest self is.

I acknowledged her and her desire to take what did not rightfully belong to her while she acknowledged me and my desire to be honest. Why did she steal in adolescence? It was a daring, thrilling act that left her feeling powerful; for once she was in control. It not only compensated for the lack of control in my life but may actually have helped me survive, given me just a tad of badly needed self-confidence.

As we recapitulated we agreed that stealing wasn’t right, but also that being straightforwardly honest wasn’t always right either. Sometimes it’s just better to not say something than to offend. Sometimes it’s just better to be tactful and walk away. In the end, we agreed that being able to discriminate, to have empathy, and to do what was really right in any particular moment or circumstance should win out. I also had to admit that there were situations where stealing might be absolutely right and necessary and I reserved the right to exercise that option should it arise. It’s not just a black and white issue; nothing ever really is.

In recapitulation the thief inside me and I met each other openly and honestly. We confronted our deepest issues with each other and reconciled our differences. We allowed how we really did need each other, how we each had our place in the grand scheme of life. We now live together in harmony. Yes, I was bad, but now I’m good and bad!

In recapitulation all parts of the self are acknowledged and integrated and the result is a more even and flowing life, all parts exposed and on board, in good alignment and willing to work things out rather than simply compensate for each other by going to the opposite extreme. It’s a great way to live.

Always recapitulating,

Jan

Chuck’s Place: Breakthrough To Wholeness

The magnolia buds have survived the winter and are ready now for breakthrough... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
The magnolia buds have survived the winter and are ready now for breakthrough…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

We are beings filled to the brim with conflicting tendencies. St. Paul said it succinctly: “That which I would I do not, that which I would not, that I do.” Confronted with the opposition of his own carnal sexuality and his deep spirituality, St. Paul went the way of many a monastic tradition and chose celibacy. The challenge of truly reconciling this polarity within the self by rejecting that which is outside of the self is daunting and often misses the mark. The failure of this resolution couldn’t be more apparent than in the modern Catholic Church,* tarnished worldwide with deep involvement in sexual abuse. Clearly, merely shunning or splitting off sexuality does not make it go away—it must be reckoned with.

Carl Jung pointed out that for a tree’s branches to reach heaven its roots have to reach hell. True reconciliation of inherent human oppositions must integrate all sides of human nature into a cohesive whole. A one-sided solution to our problems inevitably sets the stage for a backlash or a breakthrough of the forsaken other—the rejected shadow self.

Times of breakthrough are exceptional times, like the breakthrough of a swollen river over its dikes. In hexagram #43, Breakthrough, the I Ching counsels resolute action in such exceptional circumstances. First, resolution must be based on a union of strengths and friendliness. The adult self must hold its own and not be taken over by the opposing tendency. On the other hand, it needs to greet it with friendliness, lend an objective ear to its point of view.

Second, a compromise with evil is not possible. If the dissociated tendency insists on taking over the personality on its own terms, it must be openly discredited. There can be no compromise with a one-sided truth. On the other hand, the passions and one-sided motives of the ego self must equally be brought into the light and openly examined.

Third, the struggle must not be carried out directly by force. If an opposing tendency has taken on a compulsive habit in the personality, labeling it evil or denigrating the self for its presence in the personality only empowers it as it weakens the adult self charged with shifting the habitual state of affairs, such as with some kinds of addictions.

It's surprising just how much nature shows us how to break through. When the time is right...Just do it! - Photo by Jan Ketchel
It’s surprising just how much nature shows us how to break through.
When the time is right…Just do it!
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Finally, the best way to advance is to make energetic progress in new behaviors that serve the true needs of the overall personality. A dysfunctional habit may actually be holding the place of a deeper need for fulfillment. Rather than brand the habit as bad, make use of it to turn in a new direction and engage in behaviors that fulfill the deeper needs of the self. For instance, challenge the self to go into the world and interact versus retreating and soothing the self with lulling talk and substance. Or rather than seeking excessive fulfillment in the outer world, retreat into the deep vibrational experience of transcendent oneness in meditation.

Breakthrough encounters are part and parcel of the individuation process. Breakthrough encounters are necessary guideposts in recapitulation as well. Through these encounters we are afforded the opportunity to integrate our opposing tendencies into a holistic being, truly capable of a new mantra: “That which I would, I do;” the ultimate conscious breakthrough, in consummate wholeness.

Breaking through,
Chuck

* It is interesting to note that an ancient papyrus has broken through the sands of time and been validated by modern scientific method to challenge this one-sided position of the Catholic Church. At least some early Christian communities documented that Christ spoke of having a wife. Here is an excerpt from the NYT regarding the words that have fanned some controversy: “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife…’ ” Too convenient for some, it also contained the words “she will be able to be my disciple,” a clause that inflamed the debate in some churches over whether women should be allowed to be priests.

Read the entire report in The New York Times.