A Pathwork Leaders Retreat Growth Experience
Over the weekend twelve of the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork (MAP) Leadership group experienced a beautiful “Doing Pathwork Together” weekend. As one of the three facilitators, I perhaps got the most out of this experience. In these blogs over recent weeks I have shared much of my process leading up to this retreat: the angst I had, the struggle with what to do with my PowerPoint presentation of Pathwork Lecture 131 on which I had spent so many hours but with which the other facilitators did not seem to relate, living in the unknown about what to do, maintaining presence to the arising in each moment, and so on. For me this Retreat was about remaining firm, yet resilient, observing what was coming up and where Spirit seemed to be moving us. All of this was beautiful experience for me – as if riding a surfboard, and going with the flow. In this blog entry I shall limit myself to my own experiences in the workshop itself.
On Saturday morning we began with getting in touch with the “Sun behind the clouds” – remembering that indeed the Sun is behind the clouds, as Pathwork Lecture 131 reminds us. For this we did a meditative walk on the land, taking in Nature, putting one foot down at a time on the land. I was struck by the Majesty of the Pine Forest, but I was also aware of how challenging it was not to let thoughts creep in. Thoughts like, “is this OK?” “Are people getting what they need from this exercise?” “Why cannot I be more present?” “Oh, there’s a car parked illegally under the oaks!” Thoughts, thoughts, thoughts – but penetrated from time to time by the feel of Nature around me.
We then came inside and began moving to music. I love movement, so this experience was beautiful, taking me more into my body. The day before it came to Karen, one of our three fellow organizers of the Retreat, to print out a series of beautiful sunrise/sunset photos. After the dancing we were asked to pick a sunrise/sunset photo that most spoke to us and then, in a meditative state, name or draw what the Sun – God within – represented for us.
To this I drew a series of wavy lines – being in the Now, movement, nowhere to go, nothing to produce, Trust, being in the Flow of Life. I could be relaxed from here. I was feeling inspired, enthused. I was feeling the joy that comes over me as I work on mining the Truths from the Pathwork Lectures, the Joy I feel when doing my website, my presentations, or my blog entries. The feelings of freedom and joy were palpable. Yes, these are the feelings of Stage 2 Pathwork – the Spiritual side of Pathwork – that fills me with inspiration. A rich experience from my inner being that I could settle into.
Having said this, however, I realized that although I was feeling such Joy around the arising of Truth, I was not feeling love arising. Love is simply not in my palette of consciousness as of yet. And I was not yet able to take in fully the Joy of Nature all about me on our walk, another limitation of my consciousness palette. I am not feeling the deep connection, the oneness of all that is. I was not depressed or concerned about these temporary deficiencies in my consciousness palette, but rather just noticing where my energy was (Wisdom, Truth) and where it was not (Love, Connection to Nature).
The Clouds (Effects of unconscious Causes)
The second half of the morning we worked with our clouds, those feelings that are disharmonious, troublesome, and stress producing – feelings such as doubt, helplessness, hopelessness, guilt, unworthiness, and the like. The idea was to enter whatever feelings typify our daily disharmonies, or are with us in this very moment, and to be with them rather than to run away from them. Yes, they block the Sun, but they also hold the key for leading us into the next steps of clearing the clouds away. Going around the clouds to get to the Sun just doesn’t work.
The Cloud experience began with a meditation. The clouds that floated up for me began with anxiety – that familiar low-level stress that makes me nervous about life itself. Then there was doubt – am I wrong, wrong about Life, about God, about me being in the world? And this quickly dropped to fear, existential fear; it felt like a profound fear – fear of love, fear of connection, fear of Life. I was even feeling fear about meditating about feeling fear and disharmonies.
At this point there was no task of defending against the fear but rather just being with the fear, feeling the fear. I know intellectually that fear cannot be Truth, but that intellectual knowing does not disburse the dark clouds of fear separating me from the Truth, that is, from the Sun behind the clouds. The only way is to be in and go through the clouds.
The lesson imparted by this experience is that fear and other disharmonies are OK, they will not kill me since I am an adult and not the child I was when my cloud-defense system was built in order to protect me from any and all pain. Experiencing disharmonies is part of being human. It is part of my inherent dualistic consciousness. Just feel the disharmonies, Gary, that was my job in this exercise.
Images, Misconceptions, Lower Self Defenses (Causes of Clouds)
The afternoon was devoted to exploring some of the Causes behind our disharmonies, our clouds. This was very powerful for me. It began with having an hour on our own to just be with ourselves to see what awareness came up regarding our Images, Misconceptions and Lower Self defenses.
Where I began, however, was awareness of Truth arising from my Higher Self aspects – that unmistakable Joy that fills me when I have an experience of connecting the dots of Life and thereby gaining an insight that fills me with positive energy and enthusiasm. This enthusiasm arises whenever an elegant and comprehensive budget comes into place on my computer after hours or days of working with numbers, or when a strategy for our Sevenoaks business becomes clear, or a Pathwork concept or Truth becomes conscious. I could feel the energy for the rightness of Truth no matter the form, and yet I knew of my flexibility in search of still deeper truths when someone else has a different idea that is obviously true at perhaps a higher level. This is Joy of engagement regarding Truth. That this awareness of these Higher Self aspects would arise when I was supposed to be looking at Images and Lower Self defenses felt strange to me, but it is what happened.
And of course this arising was perfect for my experience at this time. Earlier in the weekend I was captivated by the Question and Answer given in Pathwork Lecture 131 dealing with fear of self-responsibility (click here to open this quote). And just at this point in my reflection time of Causes for Clouds a realization came to me that the Guide’s answer applied to me. Yes, I have fear of self-responsibility. The visual that came to mind was fruit on the vine: My fruit (all the insights and truths that arise in me from my Higher Self aspects) dies on the vine, un-harvested! I won’t push to harvest the fruit so that it can be eaten and nourish others, but rather just generate more fruit, which, of course, also dies on the vine.
And what is behind this visual of my fruit dying on the vine? Three things came up.
1) Doubt – is this fruit really Truth? Am I not just delusional? Others may not see things my way – does that not make my way, my fruit, wrong? Often I know my way holds wisdom, but I won’t push it as such against the tide of others’ sense of truth. I back off almost immediately rather than engage and wrestle down perhaps an even higher truth.
2) Laziness – I am too lazy to deal with all the frustrations of manifestation. I count on others to see the wisdom that arises in me, to recognize and appreciate my “brilliance” and carry forth its execution. Don’t get me involved in the actual work of implementation with all the frustration that manifestation will inevitably bring.
3) Selfishness – I do not really care if others are nurtured from the fruit of my vine. I just want to bathe in the praise of being brilliant and in the Joy of the insights that have come forth on my vine.
Then some other awareness came forth. In my pride I see myself as separate. I do not have the felt experience of a love connection. What happens here is the arising of my insatiable need for praise and approval – my cheap substitute for the love I really want. I demand that you praise me for my brilliance. Without praise and approval I think I shall die. And from here I don’t really collaborate very well, unless, of course, my collaborators acknowledge my brilliance.
Then I saw that I don’t care if my fruit dies on the vine. In fact, I hold the negative intentionality of wanting my fruit to die on the vine. If I harvested my fruit and nurtured others or the organization with my fruit, my facet of Truth, this would be too much work (I’m too lazy for this), and besides I really do not care if others get nurtured by facets of Truth arising in me (I’m too selfish to care about others). Finally, in nurturing others with my fruit I would risk exposure that my truth may be proven wrong (my doubt as to my facet of truth’s truthfulness). But I can’t take all this failure of self-responsibility, so I blame others – it is their fault that my fruit rots on the vine.
Because I need to see myself as productive and contributory, but am too unwilling to harvest my own fruit, I hook on to the causes that are not my own – organizations, the church, businesses, and the like. This way I do not have to worry about whether or not my truth is truth, rather I can blame them if their truth turns out to not really be right. And all along, from my Higher Self aspects, I know that their truths are not totally right and that it is not my Call to advance others in their respective Calls. My Call is to harvest my own fruit! I fail to take on self-responsibility for harvesting my own fruit.
This was a lot to be with, but I was so grateful for the arising of what seemed to be clarity for me. There was time left in my hour, so I turned to harder area: Love. The line of reasoning that arose went as follows. Love energy is not in my consciously felt experience. To step into the unknown of what true love may feel like requires more trust than I am willing to risk. I’ll settle for a love that is more characterized by a “Mutual Admiration Society” model – I’ll admire you and you admire me.
Well it is not really mutual. I’ll let you be the boss, the authority, and I’ll be submissive. And here my three previous aspects come up again:
1) Doubt – I doubt that love really exists or that the feeling of love is worth whatever the price might be.
2) Laziness – it would take too much energy to step up to a truly mutual engagement and meet another as equals. No, I’ll let you be boss.
3) Selfishness – I really do not care about you, so if you think I am going to invest in a strong, mutual love relationship you have another thing coming.
I could see that the resulting cloud in regard to love relationships in my life would be hopelessness – a genuine and authentic love relationship is a hopeless unachievable fulfillment for any longing I may have for this. I’ll settle for being recognized for my brilliance. The Untruth in me that is the root cause in my psyche is that at my core I am unworthy of love. And since this is so painful to accept (and remember it is an untruth), I resort to generalizing and projecting out the image that no one, especially those in authority over others, ever really loves anyone. And of course this would apply to God as the maximum Authority.
We each shared what arose in us during this Saturday afternoon session. It was a rich experience to be open to each other at this level of self-honesty.
In the evening the room was set up with four altars – masculine and feminine, heaven and earth, spirit and nature, and space and time. The room was lit by the four candles on each altar. Before entering the room each of us had an opportunity to write a short prayer. Having recognized from the afternoon’s work that we could not possibly go on on our own and that we needed help, we were brought to a state of humility where we could surrender and call upon God. My prayer was that I might Care, Dare, and Show Up fully. All the prayers were put into a basket for use later in the evening.
Each person was blessed as he or she entered the altar room (the Sun room). We spent about half an hour walking around and sitting in front of each altar as we saw fit. We then reconfigured the room into a circle and passed the basket of prayers around. Each person took one and then each one was read – but not by the person who wrote it. We closed by standing in a circle, holding hands. Mine, and the others,’ attitude was one of gratitude.
The next days
How would the next day, our second day (up until lunch) unfold? For me it involved a processing scene around truly showing up – even if that meant being angry and expressing anger. I could see where perhaps my fruit on my vine was in fact needed and I left the retreat with the intention to harvest my fruit and let it nurture the community and others.
But over the following days this has not been easy. My style and way of thinking are not like those qualities in others in our leadership group in many ways. The issue is how to show up without being arrogant. How to be part of the team and yet carry my own voice. And how not to retreat if I think I have a piece of the Truth that is needed but fear it would be disagreed with. I feel like a kid learning to ride a bike, so we’ll see how this goes. For sure it takes humility to truly integrate facets of truth that at first seem disparate.
Shared in love, Gary