Like stormy weather suffering brings new life, for the sun will shine again. After winter comes the spring, after sleep comes waking life, after a high comes a low, after loss comes renewal. This is how the wheel of life spins, always correcting, replenishing, and bringing new energy into play, looking for opportunities, offering change. Like a new day, something is always on the horizon ready to be engaged in life. Even today something seeks recognition and participation. What is it? Something is calling. Do you hear?
As the story goes, Lucifer was God’s brightest star—literally, the morning star, Venus. As the brightest light, Lucifer could see into God’s plan: to incarnate in human form. Lucifer could not bear the painful vision of pure spirit incarnating in animal body, saddled with the suffering of life and death, a virtual crucifixion of the spirit.
With this piercing light of awareness, Lucifer refused God’s plan, bypassing the wounding of his innocence via incarnation in the flesh. Lucifer broke away from God and, along with other “fallen angels,” sought refuge in his own hell. Thus this brightest of stars is actually the patron saint of protecting innocence from the trauma of incarnate life, that is, life in the body.
In psychological terms, protection from life in this world is called dissociation. In dissociation, wounded innocence is swept away from life, deeply shielded from consciousness, relationship, or experiences in this world that could further injure and soil the purity of its innocent soul.
How can we argue the absolute necessity for such a splitting, fragmenting defense? Without it, the innocent soul would indeed be completely destroyed in its repeated encounters with trauma. However, what is the fate of the soul that is kept from its intended incarnation in this world?
Innocence is protected in dissociation, but ultimately innocence kept from life is innocence kept in bondage, in its own private hell. What makes it suffer is the frustration of its longing for life in the body, genuine connection in the world, its rightful journey.
What once served as an angel of protection soon becomes the devil border guard that dissuades any trespass into dangerous life, that is, any attempts at bringing innocence back into the physical world.
The border guard is negative, critical, and nihilistic. Its intent, at heart, is pure protection, but its refusal to allow entry into life extends beyond its protective reach to become the critic that freezes all sparks of potential life.
Ultimately, that which once was a lifesaver becomes the prison guard that must be defeated to allow innocence its rightful journey in this world. The truth is, however, as Lucifer rightly saw, to incarnate in this world is to indeed suffer a crucifixion. The ego must be willing to suffer the wounding of innocence, stay present to the traumatic experiences that once caused fragmentation, healing the split, and help innocence to live in a world where it will suffer both the joys and pains of incarnate life.
Only when the ego, or adult self, is ready to take the full journey to recover its lost innocence—as well as stay present with it, as together innocence and ego navigate a dangerous world—is it time to take on these deeply protectionist defenses. If the ego is not ready for that level of responsibility, it is perhaps more appropriate to leave its vulnerable self in the protective hands of its Luciferian defenses, as it survives in its more manageable hell of a defense.
On the world stage, America finds itself struggling with this dilemma as it struggles to protect itself yet continue to live and be part of the world community in the wake of growing terrorist threat.
America is, historically, notoriously protectionist in its isolationism, hence Luciferian defense, in the presence of world threat. The current drive to seal up the borders and keep the dangerous world at bay sweeps the nation. Yes, we must protect our vulnerable innocence and yet, as John McCain states: “all children are God’s children.”
McCain, as one who has suffered incarceration in war, knows that protectionism that cuts us off from deep love and compassion is a hell we don’t want to live in. And yes, to fully enter life, to incarnate, we will suffer.
To allow refugees into our homeland is offering life to all of God’s children. But it requires a maturity that America is now challenged to rise to. This is the maturity Stephen LaBerge speaks to when he states, ” I don’t need to see your reality papers before I act with love.”
Of course, we must be sensible and cautious as to whom we let in, but we must also be willing to suffer potential danger to allow life to live, and that includes ourselves. If we arbitrarily seal the borders we sentence ourselves to hell and world condemnation, as we shirk our responsibility of leadership in a world on the brink of madness.
We must arrive at responsible compassion that allows us to navigate the perils of current danger. This is the collective maturity mirrored in the individual ego’s journey to rescue and bring into life its own lost soul. If we live without our soul, as individuals or as a nation, we merely exist to smolder in our own private hells.
While fully appreciating Lucifer’s insight, and at times necessary intervention, we must turn our gaze from this bright morning star to that of the full sun, which enlightens us to the fuller picture and nurtures all of life regardless of race, religion, or gender—all of God’s children.
I wish to thank Donald Kalsched whose work has stirred my imagination.
The truth is, the child self is older than the adult self. We were all children first. Actually, to advance, the child self had to stay behind so that the adult self could mature.
The child self, who sought the safety and fulfillment of its fundamental survival, who sought unconditional love and acceptance, who sought the pure play of innocence and discovery, had to shut down, hold in, and separate from the seeds of its budding adult self that it launched, while it sank into dormancy, waiting for the day the adult might turn around and rediscover its roots in the purity and innocence of childhood again.
Often, that child self was neglected and traumatized and it secretly bears the weight and torment of its early experiences. Voluntarily, it broke away from consciousness, hiding in the dark so as not to disturb the forward movement of the adult self. Its only hope of redemption, its hidden contract, was that in the triggered moments of adulthood the adult self would come in search of the traumatized child self and lead it to the light of day and help it to become unburdened of its horror stories, terrors, and confusions.
Only the adult self can become the true parent self to its lost child self. Only the adult self can find its forgotten self. Only the adult self can stand with its younger self and bear witness to the full truth of its younger experiences and, in so doing, put them to rest. Only the adult self can free its imprisoned child self and merge its innocence into the play of adult life.
Too often, adults forget their childhoods and only know they don’t want to revisit that horrid period of life. As the child stays cloistered, however, life in adulthood is experienced as barren and lacking, and the adult self seeks to compensate for the lack of joy and freedom by indulging in the myriad of addictions available in adult life.
At other times, adults become parents and inadvertently project their forsaken child selves onto their own children, who they serve as if they were princes and princesses, unable to limit, so deep is the pain of their own forsaken inner children. Sometimes the inner children are projected onto pets or other helpless creatures of the world, whom the adult feels compulsively bound to nurture and save.
If we come to the place of discovery of our own inner child, perhaps at first in dreams where our child tells us its secrets, we may be so appalled by the lack of care given and the hardships endured that we feel bound to serve and protect this wounded child at all costs. Young children do need parents to cater to their needs; its the core of survival. But they do also need parents that will listen to the truth, the whole truth of their experiences, and help them sort out the confusion of who is to blame and why things actually happened. Children may need to be helped to release their anger and sadness, and receive appropriate love and support.
But the truth is, our younger child self is much older than we are and may, in some way, be much wiser and more mature as well. After all, that warrior self already endured pain, suffering, neglect, perhaps even abuse and torture, things the adult self finds difficult to endure much less believe.
The child self does not need to be catered to or compensated for all that it had endured or lost. What it does need, however, is to be relieved of its burdens and its innocence to be welcomed into life.
Too often the adult self struggles with facing the pain, suffering and frustrated needs of the child self and tries to make a life for it where there is no pain or woundings. That’s impossible. As Buddha said, life is suffering. What the child self needs to know is that the adult self will not abandon it again, and that if there are woundings it will heal.
The solution is not to remain overprotective of the child self for the life it has lived, whereby cutting off the opportunity for joy in life, nor in overcompensating or catering to a child who suffered by making unrealistic promises or acting out its entitlement demands. The key to child care is a full recapitulation where the adult self stays present and hears the full truth of the childhood it once lived, ending the child’s isolation, validating its truths, releasing it from its frozen emotions and clarifying its beliefs.
During the recapitulation process the child self and the adult self learn to trust and feel safe with each other. They learn, no matter what is encountered or presented, that they can and will handle anything together in a nurturing and loving manner, without judgment or fear, unconditionally committed to a new and open relationship with each other. With that deep work done, the innocence of the child self merges with the maturity of the adult self and together they are not only ready to lead a new and fulfilling life, but fully open to experiencing all the joys and love that adulthood offers.
Perhaps the greatest challenge for the adult self is to encounter the pure innocence of the child self and to not succumb to a deep sadness and protectiveness that freezes the ability to bring that innocence into life. All innocence must experience the wounding of life outside the protectorate of the fairytale. For innocence to continue life in this world, it must grow to know about pain and suffering.
Buddha’s father attempted to encase him in a painless magical kingdom, a fairytale world that he would never leave. Eventually, however, Buddha did go out into the real world and fully experience the woundings of the real world, as did Christ in his own ending on the cross. Nonetheless, it was through such woundings, and the ability to not get swallowed up by them, that each of these teachers eventually ascended to their spiritual enlightenment.
The path laid out for the adult self is to let our innocence out into this world and, through the trials and experiences in its human and spirit suffering, to find fulfillment in the enlightenment of the full human spiritual journey. This is true child care.
It can sometimes be difficult to know what to do when someone we care about deeply is suffering. We want to rush in to help, to fix or to alleviate the suffering in any way we can. We often have a clearer perspective, looking in from the outside, and so we might want to advise or prescribe what we think needs to happen. It’s hard not to judge, criticize, or blame others and think that only we are right. In some cases, however, it’s pretty obvious that help is needed, that immediate attention is called for, and it is appropriate then to give it, but more often than not our input rarely helps. This is a hard fact to accept.
How many times have we told so-and-so that if they don’t stop their destructive behavior they are sure to suffer irreparable damage, even death? Have they really listened, taken in our advice, and changed in any way?
How many times have we been confronted by the dear one who can only whine and blame others for their difficulties? Does it really help to point out to them their own part in creating their suffering situation?
How many times have we sent a needy individual money, only to be called upon again and again with increasingly unrealistic reasons for the monetary need? We have to wonder if we are only enabling them, keeping them in a state of infantile entitlement for our own purposes. We might find it hard to let them fail, but in so doing we are holding them back from creating their own fulfilling life, far beyond anything we could ever provide.
When we rush in to help we often alleviate only our own discomfort and in the process take away from the loved one the full responsibility for taking control of their own lives. We take away their joy in accomplishing what once seemed impossible, what they dream of. We take away their opportunity to encounter what lies deep inside them too, the issues that produce their difficulties and their suffering, what they must face to become mature beings in the world.
If we attempt to solve or fix the lives of others without their full participation, we take away their own responsibility for creating their own lives and taking their own journeys. Often they will fail to fully launch into life. They will remain dependent and needy and thus in our rush to help we have in fact done them a disservice. We deny them the opportunity to experience and face their own troubles as we have had to experience and face ours, for these are the things that help us mature into responsible human beings.
In looking back over our own lives we can track where we too had moments of suffering or crisis and how in dealing with them maturely we have moved beyond them. We had to learn the hard way that if we face what comes to greet us each day, with maturity, sobriety, and pragmatism, we learn that we can handle anything. And that is empowering!
In reality, we are personally better off letting others sit and contemplate their own dilemmas until they get to the moment of decision and determine their own course of action. This can be a tense time, but pretty soon all of our patient waiting pays off.
We might notice how life itself tends to the issues at hand in a most natural way. This natural process may arrive as a perceived disaster, but as things unfold we see that what once was thought of as disastrous is actually the very thing that offers the biggest and most lasting change. How many times have we heard people say that their worst experiences have led them to their most amazing experiences: to the meeting of their true love, to the discovery of their true profession, their true talents? Often our most painful experiences are our most enlightening, leading us into previously unimaginable new life.
If we remain stuck in our role of enabler then our energy remains stuck too. In serving others to the extent that we become energetically depleted, we allow them to take priority over ourselves, and that is not good business nor a good position to be in. If we are drained we have little to keep us going and even less to give. Our spirits recede, our involvement in life decreases and our motivation dies. If we are to remain vital, active, and fully participatory in life, we must take care of how we use our energy.
As we free our energy from perceived duties—duties that we have given ourselves for whatever reason—we are free to live our own lives. If we free our attachment to people, places and things that are no longer useful or important in the life we live now, our energy is returned to us in abundance.
In simplifying our lives by clearing ourselves of both inner and outer encumbrances, we also free others from having to be encumbered by us, by what we think they need or want. And then we are all freed to take our journeys to fulfillment!
There is always some energy-freeing to be done! Jan
The other day someone asked me a rhetorical question: What’s the point of life if all we do is die and come back to suffer again? What’s the point?
We pondered the question from many angles, from the Shamanic perspective, from the Buddhist perspective, from what we’ve personally experienced and learned, but kept coming to the greater question, that being: What’s the point of anything?
What I’ve gained—in doing deep inner work around my own life lived, in doing recapitulation, and in having had experiences beyond the mundane—is a greater awareness of everything as quite the opposite of pointless and instead full of meaning and purpose. Today, I ask, can you clarify for us: What is the point of all our suffering?
The most straightforward answer I can provide is this: Suffering leads to growth.
I follow that up by asking you, My Dear Ones, a rhetorical question in return: How would you even know you were suffering if you did not have something good to compare it to? How would you know that suffering was happening if you did not also know when experiences of the sublime were occurring? In this dichotomy I present the two facets of the meaning of life, for there is indeed great meaning in life. The point is to evolve beyond suffering. But it is only through suffering that the pointlessness of suffering will be revealed and it is only through suffering that the sublime will be revealed as well.
Fathom infinity as endlessness though not as nothingness. In suffering, one may remain endlessly caught in feelings of purposelessness, on the endless wheel of suffering. It is only in having experiences beyond suffering, outside of the wheel of suffering, that one will understand that there is more to life than suffering alone. Suffering is relegated to that realm, to life on earth. There are many other levels of existence. In your spiritual endeavors and in your experiences of life itself you have glimpses of these advanced realms of life; fleeting as they may be, accepted or rejected, they nonetheless occur many times in a lifetime. Life is not subject to life in human form alone, but exists independent of the human form as well.
Perhaps it is best explained this way: the spirit inside every human being knows that life has meaning, that there is a point to all life, to suffering and bliss alike. It is revealed in ways that do not overwhelm. It is revealed in experiences that each one of you can handle, even though you may think otherwise.
I interrupt Jeanne with a thought. Yesterday, Jeanne, I had the clear perception, perhaps clearer than ever, that the recapitulation process is very much like the dying process, that is, as we recapitulate we shed an old self, much the way we shed our human form and leave our body in death. Would you agree?
Yes, I would agree, Jeanne replies.
I go on to state: I agree with you Jeanne that in recapitulating we invariably allow ourselves the opportunity to understand life on a deeper level. In my own process, I began to understand both the Shaman’s perspective and the Buddhist concepts of life and afterlife at a much deeper level of understanding. I could not have fully embraced these new ideas had I not had many experiences during my recapitulation. In fact, recapitulation became my greatest teacher.
Jeanne goes on to say:
Remember, it was your own spirit that urged recapitulation upon you and this is what I speak of when I say that your spirits know how to guide you through life. Your spirits know what you personally must encounter in order to evolve. Your spirits know the challenges that will present you with the means of going beyond suffering as you go through your personal struggles. And yes, you must suffer until you no longer need to.
It is only then that you will understand the point of life—yours personally—including the point of suffering and the point of spiritual evolution. Until then it will all remain a confusing concept, a great mystery; as it should.
If you find yourself caught in the endless cycle of thought regarding life—constantly asking what’s the point or why must I suffer?—you will not evolve. The question itself will keep you attached to the queries of the mind, attached to the idea of suffering and the endlessness of pointless life. Why stay there when you don’t have to? In fact, the first point of life is to fully understand life through your own experiences, and then, through your own experiences, to expand the mind to fully understand mindlessness; the concept of mind without attachment, without grasping, to fully experience open mind without fear.
The job of suffering is to aid you in ridding yourselves of fears so that your dying process—in the many forms of dying that happen everyday, in the death of old ideas and concepts of self and others, for instance—may lead you to greater awareness. Life is not relegated to life on earth alone. That is what your spirit strives to teach you every day. Even your suffering is not really of earthly experiences, but far exceeds your present moment, your present self, and your present situation. Your suffering takes you on journeys far beyond self and the mundane world.
Is not most of your suffering inside you? Where is your suffering really in the world around you? You will find that the world does not deliver your suffering, but merely reflects your inner process, long ago planted inside you. Your inner fears are mirrored all around you. Life is a hall of mirrors. So where is reality? Once you discover that reality is inside you and that you have total control over it, the point of everything else will be revealed.
Work on freeing the self from the hall of mirrors. Face the fear that sends you looking for escape from the endless hall of mirrors. Look at it closely. Realize it is buried inside you, presented in this life but even more deeply embedded from past lives. You will indeed discover that the fears you carry have been carried much longer than you suspect. You carry your life lessons always within. Until you resolve them they will continue to haunt you, reflected in life.
So, what’s the point of suffering? What’s the point of life? The real point is to answer those questions for yourself. What do you think the point is? And believe me, there is indeed a point that will be revealed and the sooner you find out the better you will feel about it, about life, about the self, and about your role in infinity, because that is the ultimate point: you all have a role in infinity, in far greater life than you can now envision. But I can’t really tell you more than that. It’s your journey to figure out, to experience every day that you live upon that earth as you experience that wheel of suffering.
Keep learning about the self. Trust your life’s unfolding and your spirit to guide you on your journey, they know where you must go and why. Solve the riddle of self first, then other riddles will naturally be resolved.
Seek openness, freedom, and fearlessness by facing all the challenges of the self in a deep inner process of not only shedding old life but in seeking new life, a new life full of energy and curiosity. In letting go, in learning what it means to let go of suffering by suffering, you will eventually get the point of it all.
May patience, compassion, and fearlessness be with you.