Discovering, Accepting, and Manifesting the Mystic I Am
Meditation Time – Saturday, March 2, 2013 – and further considerations through Friday, March 8… I apologize in advance from the disjointed nature of this long blog entry. The material covers a week or more of intense work, including beautiful sessions with my helper Moira, Pat’s and my session with our couples’ counselors Sage and Anthony, and many hours of dialog and exploration with Pat and with a few of my Pathwork friends. What follows is but bits and pieces of all that arose. So here it goes…
When I consider the ancient axiom “Know Thyself,” I realize that knowing myself includes knowing my feeling self. In fact, perhaps this feeling self may be a most defining characteristic of me. So who am I in the feeling dimensions of my being? Just what are the feelings swirling around in me at any moment, and how does awareness of these feelings help me to understand and know myself as a unique being on the planet?
As I contemplated this in meditation about a week ago now I noticed a sudden bit of panic in me. This unexpected panic that came upon me when I considered “feeling my feelings” startled me. What was up? Why would I have panicked in realizing that my feelings are a central aspect of myself that I am invited to know and with which I am to become familiar as part of “Knowing Myself”?
Aware of this fear of my feeling self, I asked myself, “Dare I even drop into the water of my true feelings, positive or negative?” I recognized my resistance to honesty here. On some deep level I do not want to know my true feelings, this very vulnerable aspect of my true self. This created a conundrum. From Pathwork Lecture 89 Emotional Growth And Its Function I remembered vividly the phrase in paragraph 14: “Living and feeling are one.” I saw that if I resisted my feeling self, I would be resisting living and life itself! Pretty serious words, and yet I intuited their veracity for me at a Soul level. Yes, on some level I realized that I am resisting life itself by resisting the truth of my own feelings in life.
As my meditation time went on I began by identifying and considering positive feelings from the days before. Over these days I had prepared a detailed and elegant budget for the whole of Sevenoaks/Mid-Atlantic Pathwork. On Friday, March 1, I had felt my anticipation and excitement in preparing to discuss this budget for next year, what I called my PLAY budget, with the other members of the Executive Committee. So I was feeling excitement from creating this framework for understanding the financials of Sevenoaks that could be used to better understand our business as a business. I deemed this key to our grounding as an enterprise.
Secondly on the positive side of the feeling ledger I noticed that I had felt joy from working on and completing a blog entry on Friday, March 1, as well. In it I had explored my feelings in regards to three main themes in my life these days: 1) my relationship with Pat and our work with Sage and Anthony as well as our rich daily Coffee Time dialogs about our inner and outer lives together, 2) My experiences from working with and taking in the Pathwork Lectures – both reading various lectures devotionally, sentence by sentence, as well as listening to entire lectures during exercise and walking – a bathing in the wisdom of the Pathwork Guide, and 3) my rollercoaster ride with the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork organization – the tar baby and Sisyphus side of this experience balanced by the joy I have in community, in ordering and organizing financials, responsibilities, and activities, and serving the Pathwork organization and team. I get such joy from serving the organization. In seeing all of this I saw that I have many sources of deep joy in my life and of course some inevitable frustration that comes with life on this planet.
At this point I paused and asked myself whether or not I could slow down enough to savor the richness of this life in which I live. Yet I realized that even with all of this richness around I was not able to take it in. Rather I seemed to block the positive energies and instead found that low-level anxiety, nervousness, and fear were the pervasive background mood of my life? This dichotomy between a life full of joy with but a dash of frustration on the one hand and yet times of depression and anxiety on the other hand was hard for me to understand and reconcile. It was as if I blocked really feeling the good in my life and rather focused incessantly on the frustrations and challenges ahead. I asked myself, “Can I not from time to time glance back over my shoulder and surrender into a sense of profound gratitude for the joys of my life? What do I fear in glancing back over my shoulder at the richness of my life?” So this was the positive side of my feeling inventory and my seeming opposition to experiencing the joy it offers.
Then I looked at the other side of my feeling coin and asked where I was finding disharmony in my life. The first thing that arose in me was my feeling anxiety and fear in my relationship with Pat. Over what, pray tell? It made no sense, but the fear was pervasive in my mood regarding this central primary relationship in my life. Here is Pat, a person so committed to her spiritual path, so committed to sharing her path with me and to exploring together where Spirit is leading us, and so valuable in her support and mirroring back to me what I need to see in my own life. We are so able to explore what is working and what isn’t working in our relationship and face obstacles and defenses in ourselves that block joy and intimacy in our couple hood. And yet all of this notwithstanding, here on the negative side of my emotional coin I was aware that I still am fearing something in our relationship.
As I sat with that I saw that I fear that something essential is missing in our relationship. If I had to name what is missing I would have to say my Eros in our relationship does not meet my expectations and longing. I paused to take this in this doubting stance. But at once I noticed that I did not want to see this doubt about the perfectness of our relationship! I did not want to be honest about our relationship if honesty suggested that my Eros is not what I long for in our relationship. Why do I fear honesty on this point? Stupid question! I realized that this was a very fragile and dangerous self-inquiry. At the core it led me to ask whether or not, despite the richness of our relationship, without the Eros I long for, whether or not this is the relationship for me that I claim it is. Could this doubt be lurking about unconsciously, or semiconsciously, sabotaging our relationship? I was terrified to even ask this question, fearful that at my deepest Essence I would say, “No, Gary, this is not the relationship you long for. You are not in integrity in this relationship!” If “true,” I could not bear the pain of this answer. I realized that carrying these doubts to their extreme conclusion and ending our relationship would throw out so much that is working in our relationship and in my life, and would bring so much pain to Pat and ultimately to myself. And unconsciously holding this doubt would keep me from jumping naked into the water of our relationship and exploring and living it to its depths.
These were frightening waters for sure, but I considered it valuable to have brought this unconscious fear and doubt that smolders in my Soul to the light of day and to examine it with courage and with curiosity, avoiding moralizing and judging either my feelings or the relationship.
Somehow this line of thinking led me to look at values. I guess this came up because I wanted to explore what I truly valued most in Pat. It also came up because in Pat’s spiritual group they are examining and sharing with each other the questions, “Who most mirrored values back to me growing up?” “Which of these values are truly me?” “Which were, on the other hand, cultural norms or values of others, the church, etc. that are not truly ‘me’?” “How did these mirrorings, accurate and inaccurate, affect me, both positively in my true development and also negatively in my developing defensive patterns against life and the Essence of who I am?”
I could feel fear in the arising of these questions, again fear of honesty. To my utter surprise I found that I was not very conscious at all of what I truly value in Pat or in others, … or even in myself.
Let’s begin with what should be the clearest of these: “What parts of myself do I most value in myself?” Or look at the opposite side, “What parts of myself do I value least or even despise?” I was struck with anxiety in realizing just how unconscious I am about these questions, either for others or for myself. Whose values do I admire and emulate? Surely I cannot say “No one’s!” I realized that I had had many great business mentors in my life, but I struggled to identify spiritual mentors in my life. What would a spiritual mentor be? A spiritual mentor (or perhaps a spiritual director) would reflect back to me what they see in me spiritually. They would call forth from me my true Essence – a kind of “Lazarus, come forth” experience. I could immediately see that the Pathwork Guide comes closest! Yes, with even with the opening greetings of many lectures being “My dearest friends,” I find myself drawn in and blessed by this spiritual wisdom coming from the Pathwork Guide. These Pathwork teachings resonate with something so deep within my Soul that I cannot help but be inspired and enlivened by their words – yes, to come forth. So yes, the Pathwork Guide has been my primary mentor, my primary teacher about things spiritual, at least for the past decade.
I looked elsewhere for my spiritual mentors and spiritual role models. What about my parents or family? Both sides of my family, having come out of dedicated conservative German Lutheran backgrounds (one of my great grandfathers was a theologian who had taught at a Lutheran teachers college in the early 1900’s), no one in my family was really on my page spiritually. I did not recognize this growing up of course and went along, blindly following their commitment to the Lutheran Church. In that environment my longing for things spiritual was focused on the Bible and the Lutheran interpretation of the bible. What about pastors and teachers in the church I have had growing up? No, something in them did not resonate within my soul, did not welcome or call forth the deepest part of me that was my Essence. This was true among all the pastors and teachers I experienced in my Lutheran Church upbringing and into adulthood – even into my 40’s and 50’s.
Did I not recognize that I was on a different inner spiritual track from what was going on around me in the Lutheran Chruch? Well yes, but I did not know where else to look. There was a sense of “We are right and others are dangerously wrong” about the Lutheran Church. And there were other forces at work – such as “sticking this conservative Lutheran path out” just to prove that Mom and Dad and the Church and Life and God were wrong and punishing them all by proving how miserable I had become because of my dutifully following the Lutheran Church. On some level most of my adult spiritual life was a re-creation of my childhood spirituality – this sense that this religion I am being taught is not quite right for me, but I’ll stick it out diligently, very diligently, and thereby punish the conservative church by showing it how miserable it made me feel when I followed its imposed norms on my true spirituality.”
But then in my early fifties I came in contact with what might have been the first spiritual teacher that was aligned with my Soul’s longing: Dr. Sr. Barbara Fiand. Sr. Barbara taught graduate courses at the Athenaeum of Ohio in Cincinnati, the Catholic Seminary of St. Mary’s. For two or three years I sat in Sr. Barbara’s evening courses. Starting with her course, The Psychology and Spirituality of Midlife, I took over 30 graduate hours of her classes – taking nearly all the courses she taught. I drank in what she shared – from Jungian psychology to walking with the Mystics – Meister Eckhart et al, feeling her spirituality as manna from heaven falling on a starving soul. I felt her invitation to my inner mystic, saying, “Gary, oh Gary, come forth! Come forth!”
After that first experience of a spiritual teacher who saw and welcomed me into my own spiritual life in my early to mid fifties, however, my life once again became a desert. I searched as I served as a hospital chaplain intern. I searched as became a massage therapist. Then I came to Julie Murray who, on a directed retreat for me, seeing my passion for things spiritual and seeing that I needed a lot of help to manifest all that was in me spiritually, sent me to Pathwork at Sevenoaks. Thus began my Pathwork journey. That was 2000. I was turning 58.
So what about my early Pathwork teachers? Certainly I would have considered a few of them as my teachers or mentors, right? Well I did not experience most of the teachers as my mentors. I was somehow on a different path from everyone else I met, but I hung in through eight years of Pathwork teaching and finally graduated from Pathwork Helper training in 2008. While I could not experience the teachers as my spiritual mentor I did, after three years or so, come to experience the Pathwork Lectures themselves as my teacher. So in the end my teacher would be the Pathwork Guide.
Several years ago, however, a Pathwork teacher did appear in my life whom I would consider my mentor, my Pathwork teacher with whom I related spiritually. This first teacher was my current helper Moira. Then others came along. These included my counselor Ed (body-worker, not a Pathworker), and most recently the team of Sage and Anthony who work with Pat and me in our conscious couplehood. I also experience Erena this way, and this is why I have held so much energy for supporting her teaching the Pathwork graduate course at Sevenoaks this year. Yes, over the past five years these individuals have become my spiritual mentors and teachers.
What is it that attracts me to these teachers and not to others? What do these teachers and mentors offer my soul, the mystic, that I have not found elsewhere? As I sat with that question I could see that these helpers, counselors, and teachers truly mirror back to me as no other what they see and so value spiritually in my Soul – Gary, the mystic. They truly call me, my mystic self, forth! It seems that they are able to see and value me in my Essence as no other in my experience thus far.While I feel very uncomfortable with what seems a lofty title — mystic — enough of my mentors mirror this description of me back to me that eventually I could try it on. In this I am not dismissing other teachers, not at all. They each have helped and supported me in ways I needed at the time. AND they truly seem to fit other Pathworkers and their needs perfectly. However, they do not fit this Pathworker Gary and his needs at this time in his spiritual journey.
My true teachers see all of me, my faults, weaknesses, and strengths. While they help me see my faults and shortcomings, they do not let me overly identify with that older identity, namely, “I, Poor Miserable Sinner,” that was so deeply impressed on my soul substance coming in and which was so reinforced in what I chose to take in from the conservative Lutheran Church to which I belonged for my first 57 years of life on this planet. All through my Lutheran days my deepest soul Knew this “Poor Miserable Sinner” was not the true me, but a distorted part thought that it was me, and sought to reinforce that image in my Lutheran Church experience. Overcoming this identity of “poor, miserable sinner” has been my core task, or one of my core tasks, on this spiritual journey. As I said, It took Barbara Fiand to break that mold for me and to open the door to exploring other possibilities, to discovering and owning and manifesting my true nature, an exploration that later found its support in Pathwork and my current set of teachers. Yes, my Soul feels totally mirrored back in a beautiful way by the Pathwork Lectures and by those few Pathwork teachers who seem to see the true me as others do not.
Let me be more specific. In my recent sessions with Moira she has constantly affirmed who I am and has caught me when I have slipped back into over-identifying with my lower nature. She has led me to ask, “Are you supported by the spiritual energy at Sevenoaks?” She invites me to see perhaps that there are aspects of my Sevenoaks involvement that are killing my soul, and maybe my body as well. Of course these are things, partially out of my patterned behavior, I chose to get involved in. She helps me see that I while I do not seem to totally fit the mold of how Pathwork is taught at Sevenoaks (with all the emphasis on emotional processing, CORE, etc.), I, in fact, teach through my helpership with individuals, through my mutual relationships of giving and receiving with Pat, with my two Pathwork Buddies Jenny and Mary, and with others, and also through my practical sharing of Pathwork wisdom at work in my life as expressed articulately in my blog or in sharing the Pathwork wisdom with many through my recording of the Pathwork lectures. In all of this Moira is calling my mystic out into the open where I can come to understand myself, be curious about what is blossoming in this mystic nature, and to manifest from this nature for my purification and for the benefit for all beings.
And as recently as Wednesday, March 6, in the session Pat and I had with Sage and Anthony, in response to my claim that I didn’t know where my true spiritual home was because I had never experienced such a sense of being at home spiritually, Sage challenged me with the statement that, while I may have forgotten it, I truly did know my spiritual home, reminding me that even at our intensive back in June of last year she had closed that intensive by saying, “Gary, you are a mystic. I am here to mirror that back to you. It takes a mystic to know a mystic.” That was a precious gift.
Gary, the mystic. Let me take that in. Can I take that on without worrying about such an identification going to my prideful side? Of course if it did, and it will, it is just something else in my “mere humanity” to fully accept in myself, without moralizing or condoning, and to work on toward my purification – my purification being my purpose for being here in the first place.
What if, in fact, I were a mystic, what would that mean? How would my mystic side blossom and emerge, pushing through the soil of my lower self distortions? Can I be curious about that? Can I be courageous in being the mystic? Is there room for a mystic at Sevenoaks? Do I have the courage to be the neophyte mystic at Sevenoaks? Who are the other mystics at Sevenoaks? Perhaps this is my offering while others offer their equally needed gifts in the spirit of the Oneness we are.
Why does considering this identity as mystic feel so arrogant? In part because I feel unworthy. In part because I do not see this mirrored back to me at Sevenoaks. Oh there is no lack of pointing out my many lower-self aspects, or in pointing out how helpful my organizational and financial skills may be, but does anyone recognize and honor the mystic in me? And how could they if I do not honor that quality in myself?
I concluded that I need a support group for my nature of being a mystic. Certainly I experience my coffee time with Pat as a key part of that support. Let me give an example. Yesterday morning (Thursday, March 7), I shared with Pat how inspired I was with a particular paragraph from Pathwork Lecture 149 Cosmic Pull Toward Union – Frustration, Paragraph 15. I read it to her after she had shared where she was this morning. The paragraph seemed to fit her situation exactly, as it had my situation explored in my meditation the hour before. Pat: This paragraph seems to fit exactly what we are talking about. This synchronicity is amazing. Gary: And interesting that this experience appears synchronistic. Our writing group topic this month has to do with our experiences of synchronicity. And yet my experience is that we could have read nearly any paragraph from the Pathwork Lectures or other spiritual wisdom writings and, as spiritual wisdom, it would have applied. The mystic in me would observe, “There are no isolated moments of synchronicity – rather, all of life is One Piece, and all of Life will appear synchronistic when one is awake because all fits together. Awake, we shall either see everything as synchronistic or nothing as synchronistic but rather see synchronicity as simply the nature of what is. Only in dualistic time-consciousness do we perceive synchronicity as isolated incidents outside the nature of things.”
Pat: I’m quite enamored of the mystic! The mystic is the energy that lives you, that comes forth particularly in this lifetime in you. In you there is a certain affinity for the Mystery – the mind stream that you are has a certain access or affinity for the pristine wisdom of the Pathwork Guide, you have a fluency with what we call the Mystery or the view of the mystic. It is important that you shift your identity away from that of the patterned “poor miserable sinner” to that of the “mystic” – a gateway into the Unitive Consciousness. Sage is a clear mirror for you, she sees you, the mystic. Gary: I guess I have to recognize that not everyone is so inspired by the Pathwork Guide’s wisdom as I happen to be, or would be moved to a devotional practice of reading the Pathwork Lectures sentence by precious sentence or to listen to them so frequently as I do as a way to nurture my soul.
Later on Thursday (March 7) I had my session with Moira. Further insights arose. I spoke of seeking a spiritual home where a group of us could mirror to each other what we saw of our divine nature, not just the lower self aspects to which I, coming from the pattern of “Poor Miserable Sinner,” seem to be predisposed to identify with. It is so hard to shed this image of “Poor Miserable Sinner,” this image being so solidly etched into my soul substance. But Moira pointed out that my spiritual home is within, not without, not in some new community to replace Sevenoaks! She pointed out that I need to get comfortable with my inner home of being a mystic.
Moira helped me see how I so depend upon others to endorse what I consider home. She assessed that my recent interaction with a spiritual person who, while not a Pathworker, is so affirmative of Pathwork, was motivated by my seeking his affirmation of Pathwork. This made her sad. Moira: Here you are seeking outside affirmation of YOUR home in Pathwork. Who cares if others relate to Pathwork? You have found Pathwork to be YOUR home. Now it is time to really trust your home! Say YES to your newly found home, the home of the mystic.
Moira then threw out three ways of reading the Bible or the Pathwork Lectures. I found them helpful. The first level is the intellectual level – the “facts of the matter” if you please, for our mind to consider and ponder. The second is the metaphoric level – comprehending various metaphors and applying them to our life situations. The third and deepest level is the mystical level, the place where one sees beyond the words of the intellectual level and beyond the metaphors of the metaphoric level. This intuitive awakening is where the mystic lives. Perhaps this third level is my coming to a devotional reading of the Pathwork Lectures that so inspire me beyond the level of the words, concepts, or metaphors.
Moira and I then turned to the organizational matters of Mid-Atlantic Pathwork that so occupy my time. Moira: “So is this the place where the Mystic Gary wants to spend so much of his time?” The question was, of course, rhetorical, but nevertheless relevant because thirty minutes after our session I would begin participating in a Mid-Atlantic Pathwork Executive Committee Meeting. Moira: You have found your inner home. It is supported by 1) your evolving relationship with Pat and 2) your deep love of and work with Pathwork as your spiritual path. Say YES to these two arms, and if time remains, then tackle the organizational activities.
The Executive Committee meeting afterwards was fine. I truly enjoyed the engagement with fellow Pathworkers. However I also noticed the contrast between the issues we discussed related to Sevenoaks and my love for working with the Pathwork material at ever deeper and, dare I say, mystical levels. I am simply not sure where all of this outer activity with Sevenoaks is going, but I am clear that where I need to focus my energies in this my eighth decade of life on the planet is on my inner work that so beckons me and is so much my home.
Still to Know myself as a mystic, to truly Know this intuitively as a felt sense from within and not merely in mirroring back to me from others who truly see the mystic in me lies somewhere ahead of where I am. Perhaps I have tasted the mystic in me from time to time, but not fully recognized it. Perhaps I can consider the possibility at least of embodying the mystic in me and be curious about what blossoms as I continue to unfold and manifest into the world.
There are inner voices however that still scream back at me, “Gary, Poor Miserable Sinner,” and it may be a lifetime before I Know, own, and am willing to express and freely manifest these pristine qualities of my inner mystic that so want to manifest from my Essence. To hold these qualities back or to deny my Essence as a Divine Being is to insult both the Creation and God, the Source of all that is. May I remain curious and open to the possibilities of my free blossoming! May I come to find Joy in my blossoming and in the blossoming of Pat and of all Creation. May we all find this joy, may we indeed!
Coffee Time – Friday, March 8
Speaking of the mystic, again it is the both/and – fully spiritual, yet fully incarnated in this body, a body with sensations, thinking, and feeling, a body on the level of dualistic consciousness; fully Higher Self, and yet fully Lower Self and Mask Self on the personality level. The world of the mystic is the world of 50/50, a humble place of merely and utterly human, a place no longer trapped 100% of the time, however, in 100/100 dualism and yet not awakened to 100, the Unitive state of conscious that we truly are in our Essence.
Pat: After our session with Sage and Anthony on Wednesday I was discombobulated and was trying to get out of this state of confusion, to somehow fix myself. When at dinner Wednesday evening you said that you were lost, I felt relief. This was not a “misery loves company” relief but rather a sense of deep connection from our place of lostness. Gary: Truly I did not realize you were in “bad shape” after the call. Somehow I missed that, and I’m sorry. Pat: Just after the session you got a call from Sevenoaks and had to deal with the snow crisis and the cancelling of the PTP weekend at Sevenoaks. It shows that we really need to have open space after our sessions with Sage and Anthony – time to integrate that deeper awareness that arrives in our beingness during the session. Gary: Absolutely. As Sage pointed out when I had to cancel our next session because I would be traveling to Sevenoaks for a Board Meeting – that is not really honoring our priority of conscious couplehood. Or yesterday when thirty minutes after my powerful session with Moira I had to go into an Executive Committee call, again this is not honoring the mystic in me that wants to manifest.
Pat: I appreciate you being my deep companion. Gary: Ditto. For example to be able to discuss my concerns over waning Eros in me for our relationship, thinking this means the end of our relationship, to bring these worrisome feelings out of my unconscious and then to have the courage to share them with you, trusting that what is to blossom here will blossom. Pat: Yes, and remember two sessions ago when Anthony was seeing your longing for more Eros in our relationship. Gary: Yes, and he was affirming this energy in me, saying that this Eros energy in me was energy needed for our relationship to continue blossoming. How rich – oh yes, scary too, but oh so rich and pristine.
Shared in love, Gary