On Building a Spiritual Community
Two of us in Mid-Atlantic Pathwork leadership trigger each other. We of course work the issues between us – seeing our triggers as gifts from each other for our own transformation. But on Friday, August 31, we had a grand phone conversation that went very well indeed. And then on Saturday morning I received an email from her. She had read my email on Charisma vs. Truth in Leadership and liked it. She closed her email to me with the words, “You are a beautiful writer.” The words touched my heart. I felt seen in my Essence, in my Divine Ray. I so appreciate being seen in my blog entries over against any skills I might have in organization, financial spreadsheets, or leadership. I’m not dismissing my work in the latter, just sensing that I show more real in my blog and conversations with others.
Then there was another affirming situation. Earlier in the week in one of my business consulting engagements I was told, “Gary, I leave our sessions inspired.” And I took this in. Being inspiring to others also feels a real part of me, something coming as a Divine Ray from my Eternal Essence. And I remembered Jill’s response to my blog entry on charismatic leadership. She noted, and I agreed, that charismatic leadership is a gift, among many gifts. We should celebrate them all – in ourselves and in each other. Perhaps this celebration of uniqueness and excellence in diversity is a basis of community.
I looked up charisma or charism and found the following definition: 1) a special personal quality or power of an individual making him or her capable of influencing or inspiring large numbers of people 2) a quality inherent in a thing which inspires great enthusiasm and devotion 3) Christianity a divinely bestowed power or talent. I take two things away from these descriptors. First, whoever I am, it seems that I have a certain capacity to inspire others, at least one-on-one. Secondly, while charisma usually relates to leadership, in the Christian tradition it relates to any aspect of one’s talents, gifts, or Divine Ray.
Am I a teacher? Am I a Pathwork Helper in the traditional way I understand that role? Well yes and no. I have had all the training for teaching and Pathwork Helpership. I have apprenticed and assisted in the Transformation Program for five years. I offer “helper sessions.” And I sense that in my helper sessions with workers I do inspire my workers and challenge them to grow. However, in our Mid-Atlantic Pathwork, there is emphasis on transference (and, of course, counter-transference) as an essential aspect to a Helper’s role in a worker’s transformation. I do not understand all the issues around the role of transference and counter-transference nor the therapeutic position that states the importance of holding positive and negative transference for the worker as a necessity for the worker ‘s growth and transformation.
But it seems to me that it is very useful to 1) inspire a worker to more fully manifest his or her Divine Rays by mirroring back his or her talents and 2) to confront a worker with blocks, distortions, patterns, and images that I see and thereby help the worker remove blocks to his or her full self-realization. These two functions — inspiring and confronting — seem to be useful and helpful to the worker, even if I am not being in a “fully correct helper role” (since I do not make conscious use of the power of positive and negative transference that are allegedly necessary for the worker’s transformation). So am I a full helper? Or am I a “mere” helper-want-a-be, or merely a teacher of ideas in Pathwork Transformation Classes? Or am I a “spiritual friend”?
Of these several roles I am most comfortable with being a “spiritual friend,” and so I can “claim” spiritual friendship as a title. I am uncomfortable, however, with the title of “teacher,” and even more uncomfortable yet with the title of “Helper.” So until I receive more Guidance from within and without I shall think of myself as a spiritual friend, a peer on the path, who loves to share life experiences, ideas, and exploration of BIG questions with fellow travelers. I’ll do this in my seemingly permanent state of “helpership apprenticeship” realizing that many, if not most, would not consider my approach is moving me toward the role of being a “Real Helper.”
I find I even resist the transference and counter-transference emphasis in our Pathwork Helper community, not seeing these terms as clearly spelled out as a core teaching in the Pathwork Lectures, and therefore not even seeing them as part of Pathwork. So as long as other helpers are insisting on transference and counter-transference as being central ideas in a Pathwork helper’s practice, I shall resist becoming an “official” Helper in the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork community. And I feel the power of my “NO,” and in this power I see that this is clearly an area for more work on myself. What is really behind this NO? Maybe later I’ll take this up.
But let me go back to my charisms of “being a beautiful writer” and “one who inspires others” and “being a spiritual friend.” What would happen if I accepted these as my gifts to the community and to the planet as I live out my life? Is not my refining refining these gifts and offering them to the world around me, that is, offering my Divine Rays, being a Pathworker in every sense of the word? Is this not “Answering my Call,” whether or not I am a Helper?
And in parallel with this manifestation of my Divine Rays, is not my personal work of purification, work needed to remove obscurations blocking the light of my Divine Rays, as well as my intention and choice to surrender to the transformation process, daring to surrender to the Grace and Love of God in order to experience the Mystery of the transformation of my limiting attitudes and my negative intentionality into expansive attitudes and positive intentionality all part of my process of spiritual and personal growth? These realizations in and of themselves inspire me to continue ever more deeply into my Essence! And to me this commitment to further personal growth so that I can manifest more fully in answering my Call to Life has nothing to do with “claiming Helpership.” In fact, I have no idea what this commitment is beyond being evermore committed to Pathwork and my Journey Home to God.
But I do pause to ask, “Just how do I inspire others, how do I communicate Truth in my writing and many conversations? How do I offer my audio recordings of the Pathwork Lectures and related materials freely to all who need them? How do I prepare, use, and share PowerPoint materials, which outline Pathwork teachings and principles? How do I use my love of photography for the joy of others?” And so on. And to whom do I offer these Divine Rays? Do I offer these gifts to Pat? To my kids and grandkids? To other leaders in our Pathwork Community? To my many friends on many levels? Both widening the net of my offerings, and being more conscious about offering these Divine Rays feel important.
In regard to inspiring others, I am reminded of words from Pathwork Lecture 207 The Spiritual Symbolism and Significance of Sexuality, paragraph 17:
The aspect of real love which I refer to as “letting the other be” means more than just accepting where and who the other person is at any given moment. It means having a vision of the total person, including his or her as yet unrealized potential. Such a vision of the unmanifest in another person is a great act of love.
Whether or not I am a Pathwork Helper, this paragraph states my intention in my interaction with others – be they workers, peers, authority figures, family members, friends, or people with whom I am in conflict. It is certainly how I intend to show up for Pat! AND I see that the Lecture calls this LOVE.
At this point, Pat joins me for coffee, and we share.
Pat: Charisms. So many ways to find God within. Gary: Yes, and not only realizing our Divine Rays that are our Essence, but also finding our blocks, distortions and illusions related to showing up from our Divine Essence! What I am noticing right now, however, is the Peace that comes from Knowing from a deep place that the Divine Aspects are each of us, they are our True Nature! Peace is an aspect of our Self Realization. This Peace comes even in times of trouble and problems, the Peace comes from Knowing we each have unique images, distortions, patterns, and faults to work through – all aspects that give rise to our “Beautiful Problems.” This is why we are here on the planet in dualistic consciousness – to learn that our Wonderful Problems have as their causes negative aspects of ourselves, and that our job is to accept AND set about to change those negativities that give rise to our Wonderful Problems. This makes Life into a School.
Pat: This is about transforming my egoic view of the Divine Kernel within me, transforming that egoic structure that holds on to the idea that at my core I am Bad, that nothing at all is there, but rather, after transformation, to consider the possibility that I have basic Goodness at my core. I am a Ray of that Goodness in a specific way. Gary: Yes, transforming our attitudes about ourselves and about life, those attitudes that say “I am Bad,” or that “I am separate.” Pat: Are these attitudes or are they rather beliefs?
Gary: Good question. Let’s look up attitude: attitude: manner, disposition, feeling, position, etc., with regard to a person or thing; tendency or orientation, especially of the mind; and while we are at it, disposition: the predominant or prevailing tendency of one’s spirit; natural mental and emotional outlook or mood; characteristic attitude. So I would say that transforming our attitudes about ourselves and about our lives would mean changing our predisposition or inclinations about ourselves and our lives, our assumptions about who we are and what our lives are about. And yes, this would be based upon changing our set of beliefs about life and ourselves.
Gary (continuing): I see my commitment and persistence in various areas of my life: writing these blogs, creating the audio recordings of the Pathwork Lectures, taking photos of flowers and people, supporting the development of Erena’s Graduate Program, and the like. I seem undaunted when encountering obstacles in these matters. And when I am not received in these areas, I do not collapse but continue the course. Pat: Do you remember years ago when you were part of AIP? We spoke of the “Winds of the North” – Kenti the Hummingbird – energies of Manifestation, Action, Discipline, Impeccability, and Living in the Unknown. These qualities seem to fit here.
Gary: Yes, each of these energies seems to fit. I want to go back to the Graduate Program and the 2-hour conversation I had with Karen Millnick, our administrator, back on June 23rd, after she knew her time us would be limited due to her cancer spreading. After we attuned, she said she wanted to give me the crystal she had used at gatherings of the Helper Community for the past twenty years. It was a sacred moment. I was taken aback that she chose to give this to me. Or rather, loan it to me as its keeper on behalf of the community until I passed it on to another keeper. For her the crystal characterized our Helper Community in a special way.
Then about an hour into the conversation Karen shared her vision for the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork Helper Community. What she saw was that over the next five years each helper in our helper community would come forth in a unique way in response to his or her Calling. The strong energy of the founders was now gone, and over the next five years it would be replaced by the integration of these varied unique gifts of each member of our helper community. She said that our challenge and our opportunity is now how to find, organically manifest, and integrate these “Divine Rays” unique to each of us.
In Karen’ and my meeting I then began speaking of the importance of the Graduate Program in all of this. The Pathwork Graduate Program underlies our manifestation as a community of Helpers. (Click to open a 25-minute segment of this 2-hour interview) And now, today, just about two months after our meeting, I see the connection between Karen’s vision and the multifaceted crystal she loaned to me. The crystal, like the community, has so many facets. Our future does not depend upon one charismatic solitary crystal but rather will emerge as a collection of charisms. This is like Jill commented in response to my previous blog on Charismatic leadership. We are a collection of facets, of Divine Rays, coming together for the benefit of all humankind.
And each of us in the Mid-Atlantic Helper Community is working on our distortions and illusions that block and occlude the brilliance of our respective Divine Rays. In community we encourage and inspire one another in our respective Divine Rays AND we confront one another when we see distortions and blocks in the other. Pat: Both encouraging AND confronting are hard. We want to encourage, but our egoic stuff gets in the way. And I am sad when I think of those who may be dropping out of the core of 12 in my spiritual group. Confrontation is so hard. Thoughts like, “Who am I to confront so and so? Yet I am in a unique place to reach out to certain members of our community. A tough calling, but if not me, who?
Pat (continuing): There is a lot of chaos, messiness, and destruction around us this morning – with my spiritual group, with the Pathwork Community, and with US. Yet somehow this morning things are different, or rather, I’m holding things differently. Somehow the “Chaos, Messiness, and Destruction” look different. Oh my Gosh. That’s the only way! Gary: Yes! Yes! Like Pathwork Lecture 183 The Spiritual Meaning of Crisis explains. And I am struck once again by the life and writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Here it is by his short book Life Together. In this book he describes the community he created in the seminary he founded at the age of 29. So rich with how the seminary students lived together in community. Pat: Yes, yes. Good.
Pat (continuing): I am getting more clarity around the feel of community – the community that our leader is forming with the 12 committed students and the community that you and I are forming under the watchful eyes of Sage and Anthony. This is a community of two. Or perhaps, with Sage and Anthony, a community of four. I can make clearer discernment of what I choose to get involved with and what not. What most serves my awakening at this time in my life? What is here is my work with my community and with you and Sage and Anthony. That is enough. What I see dropping off are possibly Authentic Movement (after 12 years), my spiritual friendship program, and some of the Journaling. All good stuff, but I cannot do it all. And we also need time for pleasure, friendships, family, and lightness. We are not expected, as merely and utterly human beings, to be so intense. Gary: And of course at the word intense I am reminded of Moira sending me to Pathwork Lecture 151: Intensity: An Obstacle to Self-Realization.
Pat: Yes, this is what I meant last time when I talked about your being addicted to intensity, to the Fire, the Form side of the heart center, opposite the Void in the Heart Center. I didn’t mean to hurt you by challenging your identity and intensity with the Pathwork material. Gary: Yes, the Sword of Truth often hurts; it has to in order to do its work. The webs and patterns are so strong and resistant to the Sword of Truth! Pat: Yes, the pattern arose in the child to keep the child from pain, pain that, as a child, it could not tolerate, so it built its defenses of patterns and webs. This resulted in the Guarded Heart. But we cannot have pleasure without having pain. It’s just that the adult in us can now handle both the pain and the pleasure – we no longer need our defenses, our walls that “protect” us from both.
Pat (continuing): As I sit here this morning I cannot see, I do not Know the Calling that is “US.” Gary: Back to the Winds of the North: Living in the Unknown. All we can do is live in the energies of “Manifestation, Action, Discipline, Impeccability AND then live in the Unknown. That is, we live “correctly” in our discipline and impeccability, but do not have any expectation of what exactly will unfold as “US.” The ego cannot Know what is unknown, what it has not yet experienced. And it is, therefore, powerless to “make it happen.” Why? The ego does not know what the “it” is that the Soul longs for.
Pat: But the Ego can surrender! Gary: Yes, surrender, but not in a “giving up, hopeless” sense. Rather, surrender in a trusting sense, trusting the unfoldment of the Mystery that Life is – trusting the benign (well-wishing) of the Cosmos, trusting the Love that God is!
Pat: Maybe this is why you like Bonhoeffer. He lived so courageously. I love those who have come to you: Bernstein, Oppenheimer, Einstein, and now Bonhoeffer, and of course always the Pathwork Guide! And, though this may trigger you, Jesus Christ. All of these are part of your Jewel Tree!
Gary: Even Bonhoeffer’s depression fits. He was not all “courage and confidence.” At times he because discouraged and even depressed. Again from Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, pages 273-4:
… Bonhoeffer chose Eberhard Bethge as his confessor. Bonhoeffer felt comfortable sharing with Bethge what he called acedia or tristitia – a ‘sadness of the heart’ that we might call depression. He suffered from it but rarely showed it, except among close friends. Gerhard Jacobi said, ‘In private conversation he made a less calm and harmonious impression. One noticed at once what a sensitive person he was, what a turmoil he was in, and how troubled.’ And it’s doubtful that Bonhoeffer discussed it with anyone but Bethge. He knew that Bethge’s towering intellect and his mature and well-established faith were up to the task of dealing with him in his complexities, even in his doubts, such as they were. He know that Bethge could function in the role of pastor to him, which he did, and not just at Finkenwalde, but thenceforth. He touched on his depression years later, in a letter to Bethge from Tegel prison: ‘I wonder why it is that we find some days so much more oppressive than others, for no apparent reason. Is it growing pains – or spiritual trial? Once they’re over, the world looks quite a different place again.’
There was little question that Bonhoeffer was sometimes extremely intense, that his brilliant and overactive mind could lead him into temporary cul-de-sacs of agitation. But in Bethge, he had a friend to whom he could show this worst side. Bethge was as naturally sunny as Bonhoeffer could be intense. Bonhoeffer mentioned it in another letter from Tegel: ‘I don’t know anyone who does not like you, whereas I know a great many people who do not like me. I don’t take this at all hardly for myself; wherever I find enemies I also find friends, and that satisfies me. But the reason is probably that you are by nature open and modest, whereas I am reticent and rather demanding.
Gary (continuing): I see many of these qualities in me: intensity, “sadness of the heart,” with an over-active mind leading to temporary cul-de-sacs of agitation, demanding. Yes, I am truly German Lutheran in these regards! Pat: And Bonhoeffer has come here to help you. Gary: Yes! And, if I dare, Jesus Christ!
Shared in love, Gary