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A Shared Life of Wrestling, Growth, and Discovery

Gary, Who Are You?

Over the May 6-8 weekend Pat and I, along with 24 others, participated in a Divine Sexuality workshop led by Sagewalker. It was sponsored by the New York Region Pathwork and held in Phoenicia at the Menla Retreat Center, the home of the initial Pathwork community between 1972 and 1998. Eva Pierrakos, the founder of Pathwork, died in January of 1979 at the age of 63, but the Pathwork community continued to reside on this site another 20 years until 1998.

For housing, Pat and I were given Eva’s and her husband John’s house on the Menla property. The organizers of the workshop thought, because of my connection to the lectures that came through Eva – my having recorded all 258 of them – that Pat and I would appreciate staying in Eva’s house.  And, having the place to ourselves, we certainly did! The ornate bathroom alone said it was Eva’s home! Thank you, organizers!

The community of participants was rich and deep. Several participants had been part of the community when Eva was still alive. And to our surprise, Pat and I were not the oldest people there – more in the 75th percentile I would say. While Pat and I were one of only three couples, everyone came to focus on sexuality as a manifestation of the life force and to experience Sage and her deep connection with both the topic and the Pathwork lecture material. She was truly inspiring in the arena she helped us create together!

While I was amazed and gratified by how many of the participants were using and appreciative of my audio recordings of the lectures, I was not caught up in their expressions of appreciation but rather I was at this workshop on a much more personal call – to find and begin dissolving the blocks keeping me from opening my heart and from experiencing the warmth of connection – with Pat and with so many others. Further, my intention was to be open to inner change!

While Sage was offering exercises for us to consider throughout the workshop, we each were given the freedom to follow where our inner guidance and intuition led. In the context of the energy, love, and wisdom that Sage and the container offered, I had a very moving experience over the unfolding of the workshop. The purpose of this blog entry is to share some of that experience.

And as the title of this blog suggests, in the very beginning I found myself asking myself, “Gary, who are you?” The stream of consciousness that began early on Saturday morning led to the following answers …

I am the split-off one, alone, not fitting in, not knowing how to connect, the one who wants to reach out but does not know how … except in some form of service, helping out, or playing a role, which typically was a leadership, teaching , or counseling role. But even here with a defined and purposeful role, I realized that I did not know how to play a role or be of service in a connecting way with another or with others. I would be of service or play a role, even a leadership role, but I would do so from an emotional distance. Emotionally I would be an “individual contributor” off by myself. I could “lead” or “be of service” or “teach,” but would not feel the warmth of connection with others in these roles. This is where I started early Saturday morning.

We were given an assignment for Saturday morning as well. Whatever the assignment was, I was led to a process from Ira Progoff’s At a Journal Workshop book as I had learned it over several years working with Progoff’s material. The specific process I chose to use Saturday morning is called “A Wisdom Figure Dialog.” In this process I have a “make-believe” dialog with a wisdom figure of my own choosing, usually a “saint” from a religion or author or philosopher with whom I would feel utterly safe. I wasn’t sure whom to choose, so I simply said Wisdom. Honestly, my Wisdom Figure would likely be the Pathwork Guide, but whomever it was, I chose to dialog with Wisdom itself and see what would surface. So here is the dialog…

Wisdom: Dear Gary, my friend, who are you? I’d like to get to know you.

Gary: I don’t know. And I feel threatened by and afraid of your question – I’m ashamed that, after 73 years, I do not know who I am.

Wisdom: It’s OK not to know. How would you know apart from someone telling you, mirroring back to you what they saw in you?

Gary: I hadn’t thought of that. I was told I was fat. Actually I mostly enjoyed being alone with no mirroring.

Wisdom: Perhaps I misled you. It’s not so much someone else telling you who you are. That would “label” you – as you did here when you said some significant adults were labeling you as “the fat one.”

Gary: I hated labels of any kind, even labels such as “good student.” When I was labeled “good anything,” then I felt pressure to measure up to the label. My labels were seen, but “I” behind the labels was not seen!

Wisdom: Agreed! So let’s not use labels! Who are you without labels?

Gary: Weird! I don’t know who I am apart from labels either. In fact I am afraid of not having labels. I know I said I hated labels, but I also find I want labels – labels make me safe!

Wisdom: But they are not you, right?

Gary: They are not me, but they are safe. Labels keep my real self hidden and safe – and separate!

Wisdom: Well, then, who is the real Gary? What are some of the characteristics that you have as a person?

Gary: Apart from labels? I’m not sure.

Wisdom: Let’s try this on. Tune into yourself and see what descriptive terms arise when you let yourself define yourself by saying, “Gary is one who________________. “

Gary: Well let me see what happens…  Gary is one who: loves working with the Pathwork lectures; is stimulated by big philosophical ideas; is self-disciplined concerning food and exercise; is responsible; is faithful; is kind; is curious; loves Bach and Beethoven; likes deep conversations; is awkward in his body; loves free dancing but feels awkward and shy when dancing with others; likes cars; loves his body when not moving awkwardly; feels awkward in large groups; thinks he has to be right.

Wisdom: Wow! That really flowed! This “Gary is one who__________” exercise seems to be a great avenue for you. Can you picture in your mind this person you described?

Gary: First I want to add some things to the “Gary is one who _____________.” exercise. Gary is one who is creative; follows through with his projects, manifests things that are important to him; likes his computers as productivity tools; has no patience with or interest in Facebook; is faithful with his kids; feels awkward with his grandkids; is financially responsible and secure.

Wisdom: I am amazed at how easy this is for you! Now, again, can you picture this Gary in your mind?

Gary: I am more alive seeing all this. There is a lot of energy in me!

Wisdom: Now what do you feel in being this Gary?

Gary: I feel stable, erect, strong!

Wisdom: So this Gary is one you would want to be with, that you respect?

Gary: Oh yes! Being this Gary is enlivening! … Oh no! I feel a sudden wave of darkness coming toward and over me. Coming from the darkness is a voice of harsh judgment, saying, “I hate you!! You are an arrogant son of a bitch!!!”

Wisdom: I’m still here, Gary. Let’s slow down right here and be with this darkness flowing in, let’s be with the hateful one. Let’s pause and be with him. [pause] Now what do you think the hateful one wants?

Gary: Perhaps he wants to be held and accepted and loved.

Wisdom: Hear yourself here, Gary. Are you sure that holding and accepting and loving is what you feel toward the Hateful one, the darkness coming toward you? It sounded more ominous when you first described the darkness and the voice coming at you.

Gary: Somehow these positive words were the first words that arose when you asked the question. I see that I am not the darkness, and as it comes I am moved with some kind of compassion, and I sense this compassion from a deep and authentic place. This accepting and loving attitude surprises me as well. I am not even sure what “loving” is. I think the key is to see that the darkness is coming toward me, but I am not the darkness, or at least I’m not totally the darkness. The darkness is different, foreign even.

Wisdom: If this is your truth, let’s proceed by asking Hate what all his hate is about.

Gary: Hate, what is your hate toward me all about? I’d like to understand you.

Hate: I hate you both!!!  I resent you both!!  You manifest these “oh-so-beautiful” creations and everyone is so fucking pleased with you! I find you sickening and repulsive in your “nice new clothes.” Here I am, the beggar in rags at your doorstep, while you two are guests at the banquet. I feel jealous, jealous and full of rage. I feel so unworthy, so ashamed. I don’t belong here. I hate you! Let me alone in the darkness, the darkness where I feel safe and at home!

Gary: I have to pause here! As I pause I see and hear you. I’m so sorry, please forgive me for not seeing you earlier in your rags at my doorstep, not accepting you. Please forgive me. Please forgive me!

Hate: Now let me slow down here. Somehow I believe you. But this is so hard. You do see me in my rags.

Gary: And I accept you in your rags. In fact I see you, but I don’t even see your rags!

Hate: Now let me slow down even more. How can you not see my rags, not smell my stench, not find me utterly repulsive and disgusting?

Gary: I do not know myself how this “goodwill” toward you arises in me, but seeing past the rags and whatever else would be off-putting feels real to me. I do not know why. I may be experiencing my love for you. But love is new for me, and I am just guessing that love is what I am feeling for you.

Hate: Somehow I believe you! You do indeed now see me, you accept me, and yes, perhaps you even love me, but I find it difficult to know what love feels like, to experience what you are calling love.

Gary: Me too.  As I said, love is hard for me. I’m so sorry I’ve not seen you and have left you out in the cold and darkness all this time. Please come in. Use my bathroom to get cleaned up. I’ll set out a fresh set of clothes for you. Do join us in the banquet hall!  I am finding that I do so love you, my dear brother!

And he did join Gary and Wisdom at the banquet…

After-words…

Perhaps this was an experience of Christ in me, Christ my Essence, my Higher Self. Perhaps this was LOVE in me facing Satan in me, my HATE. What is key is that Satan, in the fall, did not understand the nature of love. LOVE IS. In true LOVE there is no notion of “worthy” or “unworthy.” There is no judgment, no punishment, and no praise for exceptional “worthiness” either. LOVE just IS.

Pathwork Lecture 19 Jesus Christ hints to this in describing The Fall of the Angels (see ¶7): “Again and again I see that human beings think or feel, ‘Why was he [i.e., why was Christ] chosen?  If he is the son of God, so are we all children of God.  Why should he be better, more exalted, or higher?  Why?  This is not just.’  These thoughts and feelings are often lurking in the souls of human beings even if they do not dare make them conscious.  Therein lie the seeds of the Fall of the Angels.  This very thought or attitude, which started long before the material earth existed, caused the coming into existence of disharmony and evil.  Certainly, no one who had such a thought at the time realized the danger or the possible results of such an attitude.  No one actually realized that in this jealousy lies a lack of faith in God and in His capacity to love.”

What does this mean? To me it says that we beings, consciously or unconsciously longing for God’s love AND believing that God loves us in “degrees” based upon our individual “levels of worthiness,” results in jealousy in each of us. When one believes that God loves based upon worthiness then one strives to be more worthy than others in order to get “more” of God’s love. This leads to separation and competition among us beings who participated in the fall. If LOVE IS and if there are no degrees of LOVE, then there is no basis of “more” worthy or “less” worthy that either amplifies or diminishes love. There is no need for jealousy at all. All beings live in LOVE.

I could experience this jealousy in the HATE as the darkness rolled in in my dialog. The darkness and rage played out viscerally. This way I can see HATE arise in me AND yet I can LOVE that HATE – I can love the part of me that hates, explore it, educate it, and help HATE transform into LOVE. I can love my HATE, because my love is LOVE — the LOVE that simply IS, and that is independent from the object being LOVED.

I believe much of my experience was made possible by Sage’s constant reminder at the workshop encouraging each of us to find the HATE in us, to accept it, and to love that aspect into its dissolution. So who am I? In my human incarnation my real self is both my LOVE (independent of any LOVE object’s degree of “worthiness”) and my HATE. And my growth and transformation is to identify with LOVE so I can face, accept, purify, and transform my HATE, HATE which is in the field of LOVE.

Not wanting to get too intellectual or philosophical or metaphysical, I hold all of this loosely, realizing that it is still very fuzzy and not a clear picture. But my experience opened new doors for me to walk through and see what lies beyond. Perhaps I am finding myself open to change!

Shared in love, Gary

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Gary Vollbracht