Intending to do Harm to Others and Groups by Holding Back My Essence
Thursday Meditation and the busy Day’s Unfolding
Yesterday I had been quite pleased about my budget work for Sevenoaks – it seemed to come together in a useful way by the time our Finance Meeting was to begin at 2:30.
But in introducing my carefully crafted budget I ran into a buzz saw of ridicule from one of our team members. Not being one who works well with conflict, I backed away, frustrated and angry. I did not know how to engage. I did not even want to engage, feeling dismissed and disrespected. My energy was that of packing up my budget and going home. Not a helpful attitude of course!
I asked one of the team members afterwards how I might have handled things differently. How could this disharmony be reconciled? Helpfully he noted that my ego was not strong enough to hold my ground – not in an argumentative way, but holding strong inwardly, knowing that what I had done was very valuable work, bringing order and understanding to our finances. By my collapsing, and thereby betraying myself, all of my work would be for naught, and it was work that was needed for the good of the organization. I could see the wisdom in his words. Another version of “Gary, Show Up!” But how?
Later in the day my Pathwork helper Moira built on these comments. First she noted that I had become attached to my budget, identified with it – I was taking it personally, if my budget was bad, I was bad – I was making the other team member’s accepting and appreciating my budget a matter of life or death for me. I had placed my happiness in his hands.
If I could have stood back from my budget rather than identify myself with it, and could have let him have whatever response he needed to have toward my budget without taking it personally, I could have let his comments slide off like water off a duck’s back. Can I find my center and simply let him have his reaction? His reactions can be inappropriate, painful, even vicious, but let them be. It is not about me, but yesterday my egocentricity made it about me. And hence my egocentricity made any criticism very painful. And when I am so identified with my budget and approach, I cannot hear and appreciate others’ points of view objectively, taking in their wisdom and integrating it with my own. I have a lot of shame about my immaturity here, but I am where I am in my development.
Moira and I then turned to the topic of love as it relates to this disharmonious incident. She reminded me that true love is loving another regardless of that other person’s behavior. Be curious about the other’s behavior, let him or her be fully human in whatever gifts or faults he or she has, just as I have human gifts, limitations and faults. She invited me to grow in my openness to loving the other no matter what. If one is being disrespectful or even vicious toward me, as I was experiencing in the finance meeting, in my love, can I weep for the pain he or she must be in? And from that position of loving him or her I can then decide whether or not I want to spend time with said person on this committee. But stay or leave, I never stop loving him or her. I would be full of love and compassion. The blessing I would receive in this would be in feeling my love for others, no matter their behavior. And love for myself, no matter my behavior. (Later Pat and I watched Buck, a documentary about a skilled horse trainer. Buck’s love and compassion for the horses was central to his work with them. He saw how scared they were because of how they had been so abused and could create a container where they felt safe with him – he loved each horse unconditionally – he was doing with horses what Moira was inviting me to do with people!)
Moira continued, this time going back to my childhood. She reminded me that I felt unseen and dismissed by Mom and Dad. They did not see or value who I was but had in mind who I should be in order to be successful and happy in the world. In other words, they were human, just like I am human and do not fully value who others are just as they are.
But Moira pointed out that I continue to resent Mom and Dad for not seeing the real me – even though they died nearly 40 years ago. I refuse to accept, forgive, and love them in their humanness. AND to this day I seek to punish them by not expressing my true self (here expressing my “elegant” budget over which I had such positive energy). Truly expressing myself freely and spontaneously would bring me joy and happiness. But by not expressing myself I was keeping myself unhappy. Yes, I shall punish them by staying unhappy, here by not expressing what has arisen in me: the budget. I can feel the spite in me.
I remember a specific incident in high school where I did not invite Mom and Dad to a band honor’s dinner where I was one of many who were getting some kind of award. I chose to punish them by not letting them see me getting an award. I did not want them to see me happy by meeting their standards of performance. I wanted them to love me irrespective of my performance and so for spite toward them I would not even invite them to the honors dinner.
And there were other ways that I held back sharing positive things that were going on in my life. I resented Mom and Dad and other family members and those in authority who always seemed to see and respect my performance but would not see and respect me — the fat insecure kid that I was. And even though I resented them for not seeing the real me, I internalized this and I myself became identified with my performance and competence rather than with my Essence. Of course this was all unconscious at the time. And I am sure it was not this simple – there were many other subtleties in all of this that makes true understanding of what my motivations for my behavior were back then. And all of this carries forward to my disharmonious interaction with others today.
Another nuance. So I punish others for not seeing me by showing them how miserable I am in submitting to them rather than manifesting my own essence, which would take me out of misery and make me happy and joyful. Rather, I show them how unhappy I am in obeying them. In this I refuse to be happy, which would happen if only I would choose to be me rather than what I thought they wanted me to be. So my pattern is to buck up under another and be miserable and then to blame them for my misery! Because God is the ultimate authority, I “obey” God in the letter of the law rather than in the spirit of the law, and then, in my misery (God’s laws are intended to guide us in spirit, not by the letter), I blame God for my unhappiness. I feel spite and anger toward God, even rage. Words come out unconsciously like, “So there, God, I’ve obeyed you and am utterly miserable. I hope you are happy, you %$#&! This has been my case, and it blocks so much joy in my life.
And so based on the energies contained in this attitude I chose to stay for most of my life in a conservative Lutheran Church where the letter of the law was quite clear – the Bible and the several Lutheran Creeds that defined what the Bible really means. Why did I choose to stay in what seemed to me to be a prison? In part perhaps because of my spite toward God. And of course this is not what God wanted at all. But I refused to see things differently because seeing differently would require me to drop my case against God and give up staying unhappy, and give up my spite and hate toward God, parents, and other authority.
But still, “Why choose this imprisoned life?” There are likely many reasons. But one might be that because in a warped kind of way I find a kind of “happiness” in my proving to God that the life he has given me is miserable. In holding onto my rage and resentment toward God I find a weird kind of “joy.”
And this applies not only to God but also to the world around me. In proving to the world that the world is screwed up I find a sick kind of pleasure, negative pleasure if you please. And this is my work, to purify all the false beliefs, images, wrong conclusions about God, life, and the world and come into the Truth of God’s Love, the Love that wants all of my real self to manifest freely, that wants me to come out of my self-made prison of images, patterns, and webs of endless confusion, and that wants me happy.
Focusing Statement: Pathwork Lecture 80 Cooperation, Communication, and Union, ¶12
Try to visualize this strong, forward-surging motion, with all the impact of the forcing current, and you will fully understand the inevitable response. Visualize the soul forces, and then remember incidents in which you were involved on either end. On some occasions the exaggerated need surged out of you and was repulsed; at other times, such forces were directed at you, and in spite of your desire for love and communication, you could not help but repulse it. Such observations will broaden your understanding and will prove very beneficial for you.
Where was I on the receiving end of such forcing currents? Well I guess Mom, Dad, church authority, teachers, and eventually I even saw God in this way. Authority supposedly coming at me in love but this love seemingly packaged with the law with its demands for perfection and with its punishment for imperfection. And so with those who trigger me today, strong personalities who say they love me but at the same time dismiss my creativity and Essence, people who want to point out my problems and take on the job of fixing me, all under the guise of “doing Pathwork.” And likewise I trigger them by trying to get them to agree with and comply with my view of the world, be that in budgets or overdone PowerPoint presentations of Pathwork concepts. Yes this focusing statement truly applies to my life!
In an Executive Committee meeting just before my session with Moira, I had another opportunity to see how these patterns play out in me. I had this beautiful idea arise during meditation of our entire Pathwork Council and also our faculty and other helpers taking the graduate program that will be taught by Erena Bramos beginning in November. I held lots of excitement about this idea that had arisen in me. And with this excitement I shared it with the other two members of the Executive Committee, hoping they would sign up with this “beautiful idea.”
But again I was attached to this idea, and when one of the Executive Committee members expressed caution about this idea, suggesting that not everyone in leadership would be interested in such a program, I again felt the pain of his input, while practical and helpful, devastating. Again I had taken it personally. And my reaction was, “OK, fine. We’ll just drop the entire graduate program idea.” Could I rather be detached from the idea? Could I let my idea have its own life? And that doesn’t mean backing away from opposing views. Rather, let all views be there. Share my passion about this idea of a strong graduate program. Nurture the idea along. If it doesn’t work, that is fine, but I’ve been involved from my Essence.
But Moira helped me see that I have an intention NOT to manifest my vision of a strong graduate program under Erena. Although this graduate program would give me great pleasure, part of me does not want my vision to manifest. Why not? In order to spite my parents – and God. I’ll punish them by failing to manifest what is alive in me.
So my happiness is in my hands. If I overcome my spite toward Mom and Dad, and God, and open to manifest what wants to flow through me, I shall find happiness – even if in the end, for other reasons, the graduate program does not manifest or the budget doesn’t work. The happiness comes from the energy flowing through me, irrespective of what happens. But I have to stay detached from outcomes and simply feel the positive energy of creativity and joy flowing out of me.
Once again there is a lot here to be with. And in it, though at times complex and paradoxical, I find joy – the joy of growth and personal development.
Shared in love, Gary