Holding space means being with someone without judgment. Holding space means being fully present without seeking anything in return. Holding space means bearing the tension of opposition. Holding space means unconditional acceptance of all that is.
Trickster is the child in all of us who simply refuses to conform to civilized expectations. That child will undermine our ego’s best intentions, as we find ourselves breaking our deeply fought for resolutions at trickster’s instigation. In a heartbeat, trickster will concoct a reason to open the refrigerator or peek at Facebook. Later, defeated and guilty, ego contritely starts anew on its road to self-improvement.
Before we completely demonize trickster, let us ponder a koan from Jesus. In Matthew 18: 2-4, Jesus is quoted as stating, “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” Clearly, the suggestion, on some level, is that, holding space for trickster is fundamental to spiritual evolution.
Trickster is a character that appears in the mythology of all cultures. Phil Jackson, of immortal basketball coaching acclaim, bestowed upon one of his star Chicago Bulls, Dennis Rodman, so called “best friend” of Kim Jong-un, the role of a Heyoka, a Lakota Indian trickster spirit, who both crossdresses and does things backwards to challenge the prevailing order of the tribe.
Phil Jackson recognized the necessity of holding space for this most unruly of characters, who would at times cost his team games and at other times help teammates to get over their self-importance and just have fun playing basketball. Like noted physicist David Bohm, Jackson knew the value of bearing the tension of full wholeness, over merely expecting goodness, in elevating a team to a higher level of play.
Jackson stressed the practice of patience in allowing another person to be who they were going to be, and while not protecting them from the natural consequences of their actions, not excluding them from the team either. In fact, he stressed the critical necessity of all-inclusiveness, including even the most vile trickster, in the building of a whole team.
David Bohm insisted that the way to advance civilization’s survival was to bring together all disparate characters at a roundtable of dialogue. All would commit to suspend judgment and merely express themselves and get to know their neighbors. The objective is not to advance one’s view over another’s, but simply to be part of this living wholeness.
Bohm predicted that this full presence alone, devoid of any attempt at convincing, would in itself give rise to the necessary resolution of difference. Perhaps his vision is similar to a Quaker service where, in the presence of the wholeness of the group, guidance spontaneously emerges in a channeled message. This was his social equation for human resolution, as he realized that at the most quantum subatomic level, only through the removal of subjective prejudice could science arrive at the fullest truth of energetic reality.
The trickster in all of us is our inner hero in the rough. Trickster is the ultimate Freudian slip, where the truth is most uncomfortably revealed. Perhaps that truth has laid bare one’s pretentious host at a party, or exposed one’s own most sensitive sore spots.
Trickster is daring, indignant, irreverent, ruthless, charming, hilarious, playful, spontaneous, sensitive, insensitive, attention-seeking, and highly self-centered. Trickster disdains reason and is far more driven by impulsive opportunity to shock and disrupt. Don’t expect trickster to be good at the party. Trickster is already eyeing the desert when you first walk through the door.
Don’t shut out trickster’s truth. Be patient and suspend judgment upon the full truth of the self. See what might emerge as you bear this tension. If trickster appears outside the self, in the person of another, recognize its value as petty tyrant. In Carlos Castaneda’s shamanic lineage, trickster as petty tyrant is the person who most deeply offends us.
Typically, these are the characters one would prefer most to not have in one’s life. But, from a spiritual advancement opportunity, petty tyrants require one to completely relinquish the ego’s self-importance by not engaging in a defeatist argument in a futile attempt to defend oneself. Trickster also lays bare any proclivity to self pity, which in itself depresses the ego into immobilization.
Alternatively, if one can contain one’s anger and hurt within the cauldron of self, and travel down the rabbit hole of holding space beyond one’s hurt ego, one may be led on a journey of enlightenment to hidden memories and attitudes, which reveal previously veiled truths about the self.
Trickster may never mature, but trickster will challenge one to get beyond the limitation of self-importance that burdens all egos. It may very well be that trickster’s irreverence persists only until ego truly grows up to the truth of right action, and assumes appropriate leadership. From that accomplishment trickster moves on, in its own mercurial way, to force attention upon another of ego’s many blindspots.
Most importantly, trickster offers us the opportunity to recover our lost innocence, the awe that leads to spiritual advancement.
Holding space for trickster,