My Wall Within; A Jesus Christ Series – Part 8
This long blog entry contains a variety of experiences from my time over the past ten days, including time with Pat, with Erena’s Graduate Program (September 26-29), Pat’s and my session with Sage and Anthony (Wednesday), my work with Pathwork Lecture 47 The Wall Within, my session with Moira (Thursday), an Enneagram workshop with Helen Palmer and Cynthia Bourgeault this past weekend (October 5-6), and of course LIFE (the Great Teacher). I apologize if the material seems disjointed, but there has been so much happening in me, some of it feeling profound, especially that related to my relationship with and understanding of Jesus Christ. I am moved to share my experiences of this ten-day period. So let me begin…
Graduate Program – Relating to my Christian Roots
The 3-day Graduate Program at Sevenoaks was last weekend (September 26-29) in which 10 students (all graduates of the 5-year Pathwork Transformation Program and beyond), Erena, and her assistant Cibele participated. In this module I did a powerful work scene with Erena. In the work scene I got in touch with my strong resistant “NO!” energy, my “NO!” to Life that lives in me and that was manifesting as my refusal to go deeper in my own Pathwork. Yes, I was seeing more clearly that in some ways I have been blocking my own progress in my own spiritual journey!
What was driving my NO to my own process? In the work scene I could feel my inner rage, here projected out at God. Why was I raging at God? I could feel that I was in a double bind – being torn apart by two forces. My image (wrong belief) was that I needed to be perfect (purified, transformed and reborn) in order to connect with God and experience God’s love on the one hand, while on the other hand realizing that I was created “merely and utterly human,” that is, “perfectly imperfect,” which means I am limited by my human condition and cannot attain the 100% perfection needed to be in connection with God. In other words I held the belief that I have to be perfect to connect with a perfect and Holy God AND as a human I am limited and imperfect and hence could never connect or experience God’s love, this love connection being the deepest, though unconscious it seems, longing of my Soul.
Of course for my first 50 years on the planet my Lutheran, even biblical Fundamentalist beliefs at times, also recognized this double bind I find myself in. The Lutheran or Christian Fundamentalist’s solution to my double bind as I came to understand this solution, was an atonement model. It went something like this: The answer to my double bind was simply to confess that yes, I am a sinner, acknowledging that being a sinner was my very Essence (original sin), and in my sin I deserved nothing but temporal and eternal punishment from Holy God. But the double bind was resolved by faith in Jesus Christ. How so? If I would don the white garments of Christ’s Righteousness, accept his redemptive work on the cross so I could stand before my Maker with my sins covered over and paid for with the blood of Christ, then I could stand before Almighty and Holy God and experience God’s love, the peace that transcends understanding, and be assured of going to heaven when I die. While I’m not really sure that my faith in this solution ever truly worked for me, that is, I was not sure whether or not I believed this redemption model well enough to be “saved,” I did know that over the past twenty years this Lutheran solution to my double bind increasingly did not work for me. At first I was nervous about this doubt, but increasingly had to face the truth that this was not my faith or worldview of life. But if this atonement model of the Christian message didn’t work for me any longer, what did work? Was I just being stubborn and arrogant in resisting my old model of Christianity, or was there another way out of this double bind? We’ll get to this matter later.
Graduate Program – My “NO!” to Doing My Pathwork
During my work scene in the Graduate Program I raged at God for putting me in this double bind, but then started stomping on a few pages from the Pathwork Lectures that Erena had put on the floor in front of me. Words of rebellion came out of my mouth, “I shall do anything but not do my Pathwork! I will record the Pathwork Lectures, I will read and study the Pathwork Lectures, I will make them the core of my website, I will serve in leadership within the Mid Atlantic Pathwork (MAP) organizations, and on and on; but I will never actually do my Pathwork to the core in order to take me beyond where I am in life. Never! Never! Never!” Yes, I will do even do these blog entries to appear to be open and vulnerable, but I will go only so far and no farther in my purification and transformation process! The work scene ended in prayer – my prayer for help and for the courage to go deeper, to find the Truth of this matter that plagued my Soul at this time.
Exploring Pathwork Lecture 47 The Wall Within
During this work scene Erena invited me to look at Pathwork Lecture 47 The Wall Within. So, as is my custom, when I got home I listened to it last Monday morning during my workout. The lecture was not what I had expected – I was expecting that my Wall was in my pushing Erena and others away from me, not letting their love for me in. But when I listened to the lecture it spoke to the very issues I have been wrestling with in my work scene and in my matters of leadership and relationships, especially my relationship with Pat. Why am I not amazed any longer at such “coincidences”? Yes, Spirit is guiding my process – I am led moment by moment to what serves my process! And I was saying “Yes!” to this Spiritual guidance as it came along.
A few weeks ago Patty Mahaffey had invited Pat and me to again lead her “2nd Friday” Cincinnati Pathwork study group that will meet the end of this week – October 11. Before leaving for the Graduate Program weekend I had gotten engaged with Pathwork Lecture 218 The Evolutionary Process – a lecture focusing on the beauty of our process itself, not its many isolated up-and-down manifestations strung out over time. Yes, we go through moments of deep pain, but Lecture 218 points out that the process of purification and transformation itself is what is so beautiful about our lives, about our Souls’ Journeys on planet Earth. As we mature spiritually we find we are no longer seeking or hoping for peak experiences that we can then hold onto, or, in the end, hoping for an unending stream of such manifestations as if an eternity of peak experiences is heaven itself and is bestowed upon us when we die by the grace of God through out faith. Pat and I had talked about using this Lecture 218 for our class on Friday.
But now listening to Lecture 47 last Monday I switched gears for this class and decided to go with Pathwork Lecture 47 The Wall Within. So in the days following the graduate program I spent time studying this lecture and preparing it as a lesson for our class on October 11.
By the way, I do not consider that Pat and I are teaching this class per se but rather we are fellow students with the others in the class and with the others we are taking in, wrestling with, and applying the teachings in this Lecture to our lives just like the others in the class. Pat and I become “learning facilitators” helping ourselves and others work with the “Teacher,” who is, in fact, the Pathwork Guide speaking to us in the lectures and perhaps present with us in Spirit during our gathering. And certainly Spirit works through others in the class as well as our consciousnesses and energies grow together organically during our time together. But this approach does not mean we do not prepare, so I spent time considering the words of this Pathwork lecture that could help us during our exploration of our lives.
As I spent time preparing the lesson from this lecture 47 I came up with reflecting questions, a few words of commentary [set off in italicized braces], and several diagrams summarizing the basic concepts (in addition to being an auditory learner I am a visual learner, hence the diagrams). I also highlighted some of the phrases in the lecture. (Please open this link to the lesson plans I prepared since I shall refer to this lecture as I go on in this blog.) While we shall certainly not cover much of this 10-pages of material in the two hours allocated to the class on Friday, perhaps those attending and others who stumble upon this material on my website will be motivated to spend time with this lesson on their own, apart from the class.
Central to this learning facilitation is keeping the meaning of the ideas, words, phrases, and concepts of the lecture alive and vibrant. How does one do this? Yes, I’ve read this lecture many times before in my life over the past 13 years, but what is it saying to me now? What does it mean to me now, at this point in my life? And as usual, I noticed that as I read the lecture now it is as if I am reading it for the first time – and increasingly over the years, even short phrases from these lectures stand out as powerful inspirational enlivening injections of wisdom into my heart, mind, body, and Soul. The words inspire me anew, as I am sure they have inspired me in previous readings – but then in a way suited to where I was back then. Sharing from this place of inspiration and application in this NOW is what makes the lectures alive to me, and perhaps to others in the class as they make their own interpretation and application to their life situations in their respective NOWs.
So as I work with this lecture and apply it to my life as depicted in my work scene during the Graduate Program and other areas of my life, what creates a wall behind which my higher-self and lower-self aspects hide? First I notice I do not want to be seen as even having lower-self aspects! I do not want to be “merely and utterly” human! Being like God! – yes, this is indeed a demanding perfectionism. But alas, I can see aspects in me where I will do anything so as not to be seen by others or by myself as being spiritually deficient. I will not see myself as self-willed, or prideful, or fearful, or selfish, or angry, or … . All of these aspects are behind my Wall Within.
My Lower Self fear aspects hiding behind my Wall Within
Let’s take my unwillingness to be fearful in the world. To me fear arises when I feel insecure. I defend against being insecure and fearful in several ways. First, I think that to be secure and not fear I must have a worldview that adequately explains the whole of life and its pains and joys. To make me feel secure I have to know that this worldview is correct and bulletproof. It also means that I must live according to my worldview, the I must be perfect in my behavior, in my feelings, and in my thoughts. I must have unshakable faith that all of this true, then I shall feel safe and secure and not feel fear.
OK, I can smile here, but yet see some of the truth here playing out in my life today. Even as I write this I see the sheer impossibility of all of this in my state of being “merely and utterly human.” I nearly laugh out loud in seeing myself seek for my security in certainty. But with the image that this is all true I go about preparing a wall around me so that fear cannot be seen. For example, if I do not share my worldview, it cannot be challenged, so I’ll keep it private behind the wall. I won’t even look at it much myself lest I begin to doubt its veracity. I cannot even assess my confidence in Pathwork since someone may prove Pathwork to be nonsense. Even more fundamental, I cannot admit any doubt that this is true, or admit my fear that none of this is really true. I must be confident and fearless. So my doubts and fear go behind the wall. Even more basic, I have fear because I do not trust myself, I do not trust my capacity to know the truth, to have faith. More bricks for my wall – I cannot look at any of this with honesty.
But of course I have to ask is this really true that I am all doubt and no trust even in myself? I see that it certainly was true up until twenty years ago (I was slow at the individuation game). But I see that much growth has taken place these recent years. I see that I am no longer really as rigid and fixated on particular aspects of my worldview as I used to be. I see that in fact I am influenced by new and different ideas. How could I otherwise have moved from Lutheran Church dogma about the bible, to the bible, to Pathwork? What is my inner compass by which my worldview broadens and deepens? It is this deep intuitive Knowing that has been awakening. Yes this Knowing can become fixated, an issue for me if held too strongly. But on the other hand when I find a deep truth that so resonates with my Soul I leave where I have been and follow the new truth faithfully so long as this deep resonance is felt. So today I see that I do trust myself, my inner compass. I do not see myself as stubbornly fixed to worldview like Pathwork, or the bible or Lutheran dogma before that, but at the same time I do not bounce around many different channels of truth as if none of them are true. I am discerning – new material must align with my inner compass if I am to take it in. I see balance in this, but it is emerging, not complete. In a way all of this is my addiction to certainty and security.
But I am open, even refreshingly welcoming, when I read, for example, Peter Rollins’ Idolatry of God – Breaking Our Addictions to Certainty and Satisfaction or his Insurrection – To Believe is Human, To Doubt Divine. These two books have helped me recently in seeing more realistically and comfortably my breaking away process from traditional Christianity, but yet I am not approaching this serious topic carelessly or rebelliously; rather Rollins is gently challenging me to consider new ideas, and I notice that some of Rollins’ new ideas resonate with me and my experience, and hence awaken and inspire my Soul’s Divine Essence. AND if later I change my mind about these Rollins’ works, I do not feel threatened but rather trust that my inner compass will once again guide me to my next foundational truth as my consciousness expands. This is true even if the Mystery deepens way beyond my capacity to comprehend or perceive from my intellect, feelings, or sensations.
And, increasingly, I do not care even if my inner compass is “off” from time to time due to my being “merely and utterly human.” Of course it will be “off” as it faces the Great Mystery that Life is. And I may find that my inner compass cannot be anything but off because of the incomprehensibility of the Great Mystery. And it seems this realization too will be OK.
I experience this discerning openness and trust in my inner compass and the Cosmos as increasing consciousness within. It is an invigorated space, even as it obviously exceeds the limits of my comprehension! So in this process of reflection a piece of my wall, my wall keeping out fear, has lessened a bit. I can feel my fear, but it is not overwhelming. I can accept my doubt, my “weak faith.” This experience is like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. This expanding consciousness experience is my process at work! My addiction to security lessens, since such security is not possible in my limited human condition. This is coming into a non-dual consciousness, a 50/50 consciousness where security and insecurity co-exist within the Great Mystery of which I am an intimate part.
My Lower Self self-will aspects hiding behind my Wall Within
What about my old image that I can never appear self-willed, controlling or aggressive? This is my image that I always have to appear that I am operating in the mode of “Not my will, but God’s will be done.” How has this belief that I must appear to never exercise my self-will, be controlling or be assertive because I do not want to risk not doing God’s will but rather my own manifest and become a part of my wall?
There is a need for discernment here. What is my will and what is God’s will? What I see is that at the level of my Divine Essence level my will and God’s will are one and the same. At first this seems to be but a convenient intellectual idea in my head. And it seems arrogant! Yet as I sit with the sense that at my Divine Essence my will and God’s will are one I experience that it resonates with my inner Truth Compass, yet emotionally I seem to hold the belief that my will is controlling and selfish and is fundamentally opposed to God’s will.
So when I forget that at my Essence my will and God’s will are one will, and believe instead that my will is actually opposed to God’s will what happens? My leadership collapses – my inner leadership and my outer leadership both fall apart. Instead of exercising positive leadership I hold back all will and control in order to appear spiritually mature. In situations calling for my leadership I refrain from asserting myself not wanting to expose my “fault” of being aggressively controlling and self-willed as opposed to surrendering to God’s will. Spiritually mature people would never exercise their will but would be passive, allowing God’s will to be done instead.
So, in order to appear spiritual, when another’s will is expressed strongly I withdraw rather than challenge the other with my own sense of Truth. I forget that healthily challenging the other does not mean matching the other’s stubbornness with my own but rather being willing to bend like a reed, but a reed solidly though flexibly grounded in the Truth of God’s will.
I see my opportunity for growth here. There have been instances in my leadership where I have not exercised my properly grounded self-will, my healthy positive aggression as Pathwork Lecture 258 Personal Contact with Jesus Christ — Positive Aggression — The Real Meaning of Salvation encourages us to do.
But again is it true that I never exercise leadership in spiritually grounded positive aggression? Not at all. When I am honest I see there has been growth in my leadership! There are two examples of times when I did practice positive aggression. The first is my recording of the 258 Pathwork Lectures, a project that took six years of dedicated commitment, or self-will. There were many times where I could have given up or could have been negatively aggressive (controlling, passively aggressive, etc.), and yet I stayed committed to this project, feeling grounded in its right action, until it was complete.
Secondly has been the manifestation of Erena’s Graduate Program. Erena and others consistently remind me that, although Erena’s presence is central to this program, this program would not exist today had it not been for my commitment, my positive aggression, to midwife this program into our set of MAP offerings. And the same is true in my work on MAP finances, various visioning processes, etc. Always 50/50 – sometimes appropriately showing up with positive aggression and other times not – rather showing up with negative aggression (usually passive aggressive behavior) or withdrawing. But there has been so much progress, and in that I can celebrate the effectiveness of my process in removing bricks from my wall concerning the issue of self-will. As the wall comes down I can risk exhibiting self-will and yet lead, but when the wall is up and I see leading as all negative self-will, then my leadership, inner and outer, collapses.
My Lower Self pride aspects hiding behind my Wall Within
Finally, what about my image that I can never appear proud? How this manifests is that I can never objectively see that some of my ideas are superior to those of others and right for me and my development, for my relationships, and for us as a community. This leads me to elevate all other ideas above my own, even though my ideas may be coming from a deep intuitive Knowing. For example, I created a few elegant overarching vision statements for the Pathwork school, developed an elegant budget to help guide our financial decisions, created a structure for our donation planning, created a marketing segmentation plan for our rental business, etc., and yet when others wanted to put their own approaches above my own I collapsed. Perhaps this was a defect in will rather than never wanting to appear proud – for I never doubted the rightness of my ideas – but for whatever reason I held back and in the end it was not helpful to the organization that I did hold back.
But again because of my wall and its keeping me from appearing proud, did I never elevate my ideas above those of others? This is not so. I did hold my vision for the school behind the decisions we made as the Pathwork Council overseeing the school, I did hold to the budgets I created and used them to influence how we financially managed our operations, and we did use both the donation structuring and market segmentation frameworks I created, and so my influence was felt in the organization.
But my inner insistence not to appear proud I believe took its toll and limited the effectiveness of my frameworks and visions. More beauty in seeing my process at work and pieces of the wall coming down. I can accept the danger of revealing my pride when it is there. My pride does not have to hide behind the wall.
And again flexibility is required – acknowledging when the ideas of others are indeed better than my own. So engagement rather than my dictating how things should go is how this should manifest. On this account I feel positive about my behavior – usually authentically trying to hear others out.
In the end there is selfish and separating pride on the one hand and on the other hand quite healthy self esteem put in service to the whole as I realize that which arises through my channel to the divine is, in fact, good and of God. Not all of it to be sure, for I have distortions and faults. But when I say my channel to the Divine is non-existent, then, fearing I might appear prideful, I hide behind the wall, and what wants to manifest through me does not.
Summary: Hiding Pride, Self-Will, and Fear behind my Wall Within
In summary I see now my Wall Within has held back my leadership in my own personal life, in my relationships, and in the communities to which I belong and have belonged. Seeing fear as unspiritual, so as not to appear unspiritual I put my fear behind the wall. Not wanting to ever experience fear, I can never express courage. Leadership requires courage in the face of fear.
Seeing self-will (power and control) as unspiritual, I put my power, control and will behind the wall lest I appear to be unspiritual. But I can forget that my will and God’s will are one at a Divine level and leadership requires tapping into and cooperating with God’s will, a will that manifests from my channel to Source within my being and is needed in service to the whole.
Seeing pride as unspiritual, I hide my healthy self-esteem behind my Wall Within. But leadership requires a healthy self esteem, knowing that one is channeling wisdom and creativity from one’s divine source, again for the good of the whole.
But in all three of these areas – my fear, my self-will, and my pride – I am hiding less behind the wall than earlier in my life. But there is more wall-removing effort needed. When others still encourage me to lead, somehow I still put up the wall and collapse behind laziness and fear. All good stuff to see! And as I take a few bricks out of the wall and see what is going on I feel encouraged, inspired even. I also see how this wall within keeps me from simple happiness, always being hyper-vigilant not to appear in anyway unspiritual – never fearing, never asserting, and never feeling deep self-esteem as a channel of the Divine (See Pathwork Lecture 174 Self Esteem). This is how Pathwork teachings have served and continue to serve my life. I feel inspired. I am most grateful.
Another aspect of the Wall Within – going this far and no farther!
But fear, self-will, and pride are not all that is behind the wall. As I got more into this lecture I could see that there was more to the wall within. Yes, I could see progress in revealing my fear, self-will, and pride as described above – and pieces of the wall have been removed in these areas. But beyond this I saw deeper and much darker issues in me that I do not want to reveal even to myself. These issues deal with using my deep conversations with Pat as well as my open sharing in my blog as limited self-revelations, convincing myself and trying to convince Pat and others that I am being “oh soooo open.” And yet with all this “pseudo openness” I am hiding darker aspects of my relationship with Pat behind the wall. I outwardly see that Pat and I talk endlessly and freely about our spiritual journey and I share in my blog things about our faults, faults that seem to limit our love connection and intimacy. We even do this “confession of faults” to a fault, if you please – demonstrating to ourselves and to others just how vulnerable we are willing to be. “Oh look how vulnerable you are willing to be, how inspiring that is,” some readers have said. Others just chalk up this constant confessional tone in my blog and in conversation to my being too hard on myself and overly negative.
BUT from this lecture 47 I can see this very vulnerability in and of itself can become part of my wall! How so? This pseudo openness becomes a camouflage masking and distracting the viewer, myself included, from that which I would never want to see let alone share. What struck me in this lecture were these words (see the Lesson above – paragraph 19, the latter part): “I go that far, not further. I am willing to admit such and such now, but not more. The admission of certain faults and inner negativities will pacify those who help me to reach the core of my being. No one can say then that I am unwilling. But what really bothers me, I will not voluntarily expose. I have found a good way to be able to go on hiding.” WOW! So what I need to see in myself is NOT what I share with Pat and blog about but precisely what I will NEVER share! It is so sobering to see this, yes, but at the same time beautiful to see, simply beautiful. Coming to know this “sooooo-revealing-while-hiding” camouflaging strategy about myself opens more doors, especially in my relationship with Pat. And of course I again have to ask, are there really very deep things I am not willing to share? Probably, but I trust I can be open.
Daring to remove a little more of my wall and go a little deeper
Pat and I had a powerful couple’s session with Sage and Anthony on Wednesday. At a cogent point in the session Pat and I were able to see, feel and share some of what is behind our respective walls. For Pat it was, “I will never let you in, I will never let you love me.” For me it was, “I will never love you!” Held in the beautiful container that Sage and Anthony have created over the past year, these words from behind the wall could be shared as the raw negative intentionality they expressed. We were both sobered by this stark realization of such dark energies. During the session, with the help of Sage and Anthony, we saw that in reality these were simply energies in the field of “us,” and each of us was picking out and projecting these energies out to the other. Such projecting is where the negative intentionality comes in. The energies themselves are simply energies that we as humans tap into.
But these potent negative energies have lived behind our walls and have been mucking up our relationship. We could realize that we needed to excavate these negative energies and transform them. Beyond the shock and fear of this realization of powerful negative energies in our relationship was true hope. We could see how we were uniquely right for each other and that working to purify and transform these energies was a key part of our Divine Call – setting forth our role in the Plan of Salvation for all beings. Sobered yes, but deeply inspired and more committed to each other than ever before.
Pat’s and my coffee time Wednesday morning before the session had helped here also. Pat: I can see how I have had to have my spiritual teachers be perfect, and when they proved to have weaknesses and flaws I was devastated. It was hard to see both their brilliance AND their imperfections. And this comes down to you and me as well. Gary: Yes, when we do not accept each other’s imperfections, then we force the other to keep those imperfections behind his or her wall – forcing hypocrisy in our relationship. When you, for example build the wall to contain the imperfections that I do not want to see and to keep the imperfections out of my sight, not only are your imperfections hidden behind the wall but the your brilliance also is dimmed or even blocked. The result is that we really to not see the other’s or our own brilliance – the brilliance of our respective Divine Kernels is behind the wall. This is the sun behind the clouds picture – the clouds that block out the dark spots also block out the sun.
Gary: The act of trusting another is an act of love toward that person. Hence the opposite of love is fear – when we do not love the other we do not trust the other, and when we do not trust the other then at some level we fear the other. This is the Fear of the Pride, Self-Will, and Fear triad of the Lower Self aspects. On this level I fear you. But not only this; I recognize that on some level I do not trust myself with my own very self either, hence I do not love myself and do not allow myself to matter to myself. In the end I fear myself – and therefor build my inner wall around myself, around my Real Self. So as soon as I don’t accept the Lower Self aspects in me I put another spiritual brick in the wall around my Real Self, and thus further block the brilliance of my Real Self. And we are doing this to each other as well.
An Enneagram map for my Wall Within
In my exposure to the Enneagram traditions I find the nine types of the Enneagram model a helpful map of the higher self and lower-self aspects described in Pathwork. I am an Enneagram THREE – the “Performer.” Using the Enneagram map, my THREEness is part of my wall. At all cost, I both need to appear spiritually “mature” (creative, loving, wise, serene, competent, etc.) as well as need to appear psychologically “mature” (no fear, self-will, pride, arrogance of self-importance). That pressure of my THREEness creates quite a walled-in inner existence! Reminds me of being bound in steel cords – Sr. Catherine Griffith’s vision back in 1997 of me in my mother’s womb, bound in steel cords.
But the THREE is also the heart-center (that goes along with the NINE body-center and SIX mind-center), so the THREE has deep capacity for love and connection. However, my predisposition in connecting comes through a performance filter – inwardly competing with and threatened by the performance of the other, and for me this is not performance in the material world, but rather performance in the spiritual domain! Such an oxymoronic idea: “Competing with others in the Spiritual Domain!” It forces me to have a façade of spiritually, a pretense of spirituality. My oh my – so much to heal – since this “spiritual performance” filter pushes away the very people with whom I long to connect in an authentic way. The THREE is also the center for truth-seeking as a virtue.
Perhaps another way to summarize the aim of our spiritual and psychological growth is that we grow in our capacity embrace life as it is. We come to allow and find joy in the energies of pleasure without clinging to them and also allow and tolerate the energies of pain without pushing them away with reactionary defenses.
Back to the double bind – standing imperfectly before a perfect God and the role of Jesus Christ.
What about the double bind I introduced at the beginning of this blog entry – that is, my thought, image actually, that unless I am perfect I cannot stand before my Maker or myself without “fear and trembling” on the one hand and on the other hand that in my being “merely and utterly human” I do not possibly have the capacity to be perfect? What is the truth here?
Now I see Jesus Christ and his relationship with my double bind in a new way. Jesus Christ had to demonstrate his humanity to us humans. I would say he did this both in the Garden of Gethsemane as he pleaded with his Father (God) not to have to go through what lay ahead. Secondly he did this in his words from the cross, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” These were honest words of real human agony, a real feeling of abandonment by God. It was his truth in the moment, and this was evidence that Jesus Christ was indeed true man. (Philippians 2:5-8: …Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.). As true man Jesus Christ truly felt fully his separation from God.
So perhaps we are NOT to worship Jesus Christ as God but rather be deeply grateful and encouraged by his humanity. By Christ the Spirit incarnating as Jesus the man and living among us as human, including going through death and experiencing separation from God, he resolved the double bind. BUT he did this in a way quite different from what I was taught! Jesus Christ resolved the double bind I was in not by his dying for my sins but rather by showing me that I, as true man, in all the limitations that go with being “merely and utterly human,” can stand in the presence of his Maker without shame, and that I am fully loved by God even while yet in my imperfect state. This is the nature of Love. God loves us through and through. Love at the Divine level just is. Love does not have “degrees” and does not depend upon the state of that which is loved. God does not love Christ, who has been imbued with most of God’s aspects, more than God loves me, or even Satan! In Jesus Christ I come to see that I can connect with God from my “mere and utter humanness” with all of my imperfections. In this way God takes away the need for Jesus to die for my sins. He needed to die, yes, but not “for my sins.” In this amazing truth I do not have to be perfect to connect with God! And in this amazing truth God can connect with me from his state of perfection.
Thus we enter the Mystery, this central message of Christ – namely that as “merely and utterly human beings” we can stand naked before our Maker – and before ourselves and before others. We are not in need of the redeeming white garments of Christ to cover us and cover over our imperfections and sins in order for us to stand before our God. And we certainly are not donning our egoic robes of performance, achievements, and roles. These external garments need to be left behind. Nakedness is the proper attire when standing before God. Perhaps it is in this way that we are to read Romans 8:38-39: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” So I would say that THIS is the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus Christ witnessed to us. This is our rebirth – coming to the felt sense of being loved by God while still in our state of imperfection and sin. Wow!
Jesus’ love for me, in addition to his incarnational life, death, and resurrection, is in his trusting the Divine in me and inviting that Divine in me out, calling out that Essence who I am. “Gary, come forth!” Which Gary? Jesus Christ is calling out my Real Self Gary with all of its imperfections AND its divine nature, in other words, Gary’s ultimate potential held in the seed that is bursting forth! Yes, Jesus Christ sees the divine in each of us and invites that out, even while we are in our imperfect limited human condition. Perhaps in this way Jesus Christ “is indeed the best friend you could ever have and he is your strongest helper.” (Pathwork Lecture 19 Jesus Christ, ¶19).
Perhaps spiritual evolution over the past 4,000 years has happened in growth of consciousness in three epochs. In the Old Testament Epoch 1 the emphasis was on external law (Thou shalt and thou shalt not), and punishment or animal sacrifice when the law was disobeyed – for early humanity did not have the capacity or consciousness needed to live apart from the law and would not follow the law if there were not consequences (punishment, sacrifices) for not following the law. Perhaps the New Testament Epoch 2, especially as postulated by the Apostle Paul, saw Jesus as the redeemer. In this second epoch it was not punishment and sacrifice that moved us along but the idea that Christ had once and for all paid the price, and if we accepted that and donned the white robe of his righteousness we too could go to heaven when we died. And finally in Today’s Epoch 3 perhaps we are experiencing higher consciousness yet! Perhaps we are experiencing the second coming – Christ arising from within each of us – internal law. Perhaps we experience Christ as one with our Essential Self.
Pat: As you put words to all of this, I realize that we humans try to put words to something that is the Great Mystery. At this moment you describe Christ as Brother, as helper. We are the Christ. And his coming into humanity has changed the whole ballgame of life. We think in “time.” But God manifests outside of time. Because we are human we have to slow it down, and “time” is part of our slowed-down dualistic consciousness. Maybe this morning as we sit here I am “trying on” Christ. Perhaps that is “what is.” Gary: I am reminded of 1 Corinthians 2:13-16: “This is what we speak, not in words taught us by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words. The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are discerned only through the Spirit. The person with the Spirit makes judgments about all things, but such a person is not subject to merely human judgments, for, ‘Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?’ But we have the mind of Christ.”
Pat: This coffee time this morning has certainly been a Potent, Profound Pondering – PPP! Gary: Yes, the Guide speaks of the challenge of forcing spiritual truths into words. Pat: How wonderful to have a window to get a glimpse into the Mystery. You speak of the significance of Christ’s words on the cross. What struck me is from Cynthia Bourgeault … Jesus saying that nothing that he did, we cannot do. Nothing can take away the Light that is in each of us. Gary: I am reminded of John 14:12: “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.” And later, in John 17:23 “I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.”
Pat: I notice I am attracted to men of God. … And you are one. Gary: As all are one. You and I are attracted to the Divine in each other, the Divine within our very selves, and the Divine in all beings and things. Pat: Yes, attracted to beauty, love, and truth. Gary: And accepting the temporary imperfections, limitations, and faults. Pat: This is why we are here. Gary: Why we are here – to see, accept, and understand our imperfections AND our divine aspects as well. Pat: And to experience how our imperfections and faults are transformed. … This has been an amazing coming together this morning – and Christ is in the midst of us! Gary: Amen!
Shared in love, Gary
1) My Enneagram THREEness
This past weekend (October 5-6) I attended an inspiring 2-day Enneagram program featuring Helen Palmer and Cynthia Bourgeault. Using the Enneagram map, I am a THREE – the “Performer” who finds his identity in ‘doing.” I could see that my THREEness is part of my wall within, and this reinforces my wall within described above. How so? At all cost, I need to appear spiritually “mature” (creative, loving, wise, serene, competent, etc.) and also appear psychologically “mature” (no fear, strong but with no forceful self-will, secure but no pride or arrogance of self-importance). That pressure of my THREEness creates quite a walled-in inner existence!
These days during my exercise walks I have been listening to The Great Courses production of Beethoven’s Piano Sonatas, a 16-hour program narrated by professor Robert Greenberg. Why? From my first exposure to Beethoven at the age of 16 (checking out his nine symphonies one at a time on 78’s from the Quincy, Illinois, Public Library) his work has inspired me. Now in my seventies I can be in tears driving along listening to one of his symphonies. A week ago, being curious about Beethoven, I searched on my account with Audible. I noticed that in July The Great Courses had put three of Professor Greenberg’s courses on Beethoven on their network. Immediately I was drawn to the course on Beethoven’s sonatas and downloaded the course onto my computer and iPhone. I’ve now listened to the first four hours of this 16-hour course.
In listening I discovered a possible reason for my attraction. With every composition Beethoven was increasingly becoming his own voice and breaking out of traditional Classical structure. His life was challenging as a child growing up, and then became most challenging, even tragic before he turned 30. By the age of 30 he was becoming deaf and increasingly isolated in his own world. Amazingly in his isolation and increasing deafness his prodigiousness increased and his best works came after the age of 30 and before his death in 1827 at the age of 56. I found myself inspired by his insistence on being his own radical person, expressing himself so profoundly in his voice of music.
I see this same need to break out in my own identity, breaking out from the chains that my defense of THREEness, a defense which has bound me in and has kept me behind my Wall Within. So my struggle has been one of breaking loose from my self-made prison of being identified by my doing, and doing with in the context of my life in the culture I have grown up in. I see that increasingly I am not finding my identity being defined by bing a Vollbracht, by being a Lutheran, by being a Good Student, by being Successful in my Career, by being a Leader in various organizations, by being in various Professions after retiring (massage therapist, chaplain intern, coach, etc.), and by being a Pathworker and by serving in its various organizations. I have the right to be ME. And the right to be Joyful or sad or angry as ME. AND I DO NOT HAVE TO BE RIGHT, NICE, SUCCESSFUL, Etc.! Increasingly I am becoming FREE to LIKE WHAT I LIKE, and BE who I AM!
Even as Pat and I offer our leadership to the 2nd Friday Cincinnati Pathwork group this coming Friday I want to avoid the temptation of needing this group to be in some way “successful” in order to satisfy my need for identity by what I do. Yes, as I heal from my THREEness I no longer need even a group that Pat and I lead to become a basis of still another “Doing” identity.