Opening to Love — Part 2

On Wednesday evening (1/15/14) Pat and I listened to our recording of our most recent (1/8/14) couples counseling session with Sage and Anthony and then Thursday and again Friday mornings (1/16 and 1/17) during two powerful 2-hour coffee-time conversations Pat and I picked up from there to see where we are in our lives and our relationship. Part 1 of this blog series summarizes the session itself. The following covers the Thursday morning coffee time discussion.

Part 2 – Coffee time the next morning – 1/16/14…

(Note, to understand the context of this entry, see Opening to Love – Part 1)

Pat: Going to bed last night after listening to our recording of our 1/8 session with Sage and Anthony I felt disconcerted. Gary: I felt dismayed by seeing so many layers of encrustations covering my Essential Self. The images and patterns I saw seem so well hidden in my being, in my soul substance, and primarily hidden from myself; and, beyond that obscuration, once seen they are not easily dissolved. This led me to recognize that so much of my personality – how I am in the world – is unconscious to me. Oh I knew this intellectually as a theory, but after last night I truly felt this encrustation. Now I ask myself, “Can I be satisfied to just see but a few of these images and patterns and not be discouraged by the knowledge both that there are many many more patterns, images, and obscurations to be unearthed than I can imagine on the one hand as well as extreme difficulty they present in trying to dissolve them on the other?” Can I see without being overwhelmed by the magnitude of spiritual and personal development work ahead of me?

Pat: This is ruthlessly true, but I find I am not satisfied just seeing a few images and patterns. I am hopeful that we can move through these one by one. As we simply work with the next steps, putting one foot in front of the other on our spiritual journey, perhaps lots more will open up. For perspective I have been struck by statements by some of my most respected Buddhist teachers and authors. For example, Buddhist teacher Jon Parmenter recently confessed that he’s asleep most of the time. Or consider Buddhist author Ken McCloud (open his website). McLeod is currently on retreat and confesses to feeling crazy! (perhaps related to an incident that is described by some as a “scandal” he may have been involved in in 2012 – open link). And thirdly, we just learned (link) that on June 26, 2013, Andrew Cohen, founder and editor of the magazine EnlightenNext and popular consciousness teacher who worked much with Ken Wilber, announced on his blog that he would be taking “a sabbatical for an extended period of time,” after confrontational exchanges with his closest students, who helped Cohen to realize, as he put it, that “in spite of the depth of my awakening, my ego is still alive and well.” ) If teachers we respect can struggle with their hidden tenacious encrustations, and sometimes, in their humanity, fail, certainly you and I can expect challenges on our paths and not always expect to overcome them.

Pat (continued): So after last night’s listening to our session, are you now despairing about where you are with the “encrustations” that you saw? Gary: I would say that I am not depressed or overwhelmed by the magnitude of the challenges on my path, but I am certainly sobered and humbled. I see that living in these encrustations is what is meant by being “merely and utterly human!” And I find I am not moralizing my weaknesses or going to that Lutheran “Poor miserable sinner” place. I feel compassion for my being, and, as I said, humility. And I feel compassion for others. All others.

Pat: My Awakening Into Presence (AIP) buddy and I are talking weekly on the phone and are doing the Mind Training recommended by Ken McLeod on his website (link). Here is one of the points we are working with: First, do the groundwork. Groundwork is the development of the abilities and motivations needed to practice mind training: a) stable attention, b) mindfulness in daily behavior, c) appreciation that your life is yours and yours alone, d) determination to step out of pattern-based experience, and e) a genuine desire to help others do so, too.

Gary: All of this is a formidable undertaking. As I said, I do not feel despair but I had just not realized to the degree I do now after last night the profoundness and pervasiveness of such problems in me, in you, in the world. Hence, I said seeing and feeling my cruelty, my strong self-will, my demanding narrow view of connection in over-emphasizing the sexual, my “killer energy” toward you for not giving me what I want, and other negative traits in me was indeed sobering.

Pat: Let’s pause here a moment. We, but especially you, are good at putting words to things and moving the emotional feelings ahead into words, thoughts, logic, knowledge, explanations, and understanding. But in these words and thoughts and understanding we move away from the feelings themselves in our emotional bodies. For example this morning we are sensing the formidable nature of this work together. If we can stay in the feeling realm and not move to words I sense we would have a deeper experience, a different experience, a reverent experience. This feeling realm is where we were Sunday when you were so attuned to the feelings of fear throughout your body regarding sexuality, and when my response was spontaneously moving my hand to your heart – all without words. It seems our egos want to get out of feelings and into thoughts and words. Our challenge and work at these times is staying in the feeling realm — the heart space – letting go of the mind that would define and analyze.

Pat (continued): If we stay in the feelings, i.e., in our Big Heart space, allowing ourselves to feel deeply, that presence to our feelings is what breaks up the encrustations – the patterns, images, wrong conclusions, and the like that obscure our Essence. When both of us can be there together in the feeling realm, the Big Heart space, that’s the best with regard to healing. Going back to the words of the Christ, “When two or three are gathered together in the field of consciousness, in the field of feelings,” this is beyond the mental, beyond analysis, beyond speculation. Gary: Yes, this space of staying in the field of feelings is beyond words. Here in this instance now we are staying in the feeling field of, “This is formidable work!” Pat: Right. So we slow it down. How does “this is formidable work” feel deep inside? We are inviting open presence.

Gary: As I slow down and become more present to “the formidable work” ahead, I feel the vastness and hugeness of the formidable work; the work is so beyond our current levels of consciousness, I am humbled, filled with awe. I feel like the explorer in his adventures into unknown territory. I sense that I am far from the base camp of the familiar! There is an “excited scout” energy in me, the discoverer energy. Tingly. It is good to slow down and feel into this place of the explorer entering the formidable nature of this work. So much newness, mystery. And there is some fear – tension between excitement on the one hand and fear on the other – what adventure, what life, is all about.

Gary (continued): AND I’m suddenly feeling alone and isolated in this “exciting” place of the scout and adventurer – as when I am searching for new wildflowers in the woods and get totally lost in the adventure, but all alone in the experience! It is good for me to notice this solitude, this separateness from you in this adventure. Pat: And can we bring our intention to have an exchange between us in this space – one heart to another heart in the adventure into Mystery. Gary: Making the exchange between us more than words and thoughts, more than one head communicating with another head! Pat: Yes, sensing together this formidable task. Can we bring reverent presence here?

Gary: I’m reminded of Lewis and Clark and their adventures in mapping the land to the Pacific Ocean. Or perhaps the characters in Lord of the Rings. Pat: Perhaps those are interesting analogies, metaphors, and ideas about places where characters felt the “formidable nature of this work,” BUT I suggest we let those thoughts go and stay in the experience itself. Let’s not go anywhere. I’m sensing something quite profound: arriving and then opening to the other as we stand in the space of the “formidable work” we are in together.

Pat (continued): There is a Buddhist teaching about “exchanging self for other” – both are in that field and in this field this movement or exchange can happen. It is a dynamic exchange – not just both standing still in the field but being together and openhearted in the field, a lemniscate (, infinity symbol), where we experience that giving and receiving are the same thing. We want eye contact, yes, but we need to be willing to have this exchange, this giving and receiving in the field. This is true intercourse. This is what we are longing for. Gary (speechless): This is our journey together into the Mystery of Union.

Pat: Sage and Anthony are very fluent in seeing that dynamic, that lemniscate (∞) exchange in the field. Gary: I remember in the session that when we described our time on Sunday, that time where I truly felt my fear and you placed your hand on my heart, Anthony was in awe, as if saying to us, “That’s it!”

Pat: You and I are not fluent in this territory of the lemniscate exchange. It takes both of us. We are on a learning path. “Have patience, Pat.” We are groping in this space of the Mystery. Yet we are precocious in a way. Something to do with Karma. I came in precocious in the area of sexuality but was dropped into a conservative Catholic family where I was taught that sexuality was not divine but rather mortal sin. You came in with a very broad cosmic contextual way of seeing the Cosmos and the Divine in all its splendor and were dropped in the conservative Lutheran Church where none of this was valued or encouraged. It is hard to put words to all that I am feeling here. It’s broader than I can explain. Gary: So perhaps you came in with a strong Divine sexual side and I came in with a strong Divine spiritual side and our souls recognized each other and longed to engage from those spaces. Pat: You are using words again … Let me consider what you are saying. You are putting this in the context of coming together in the sexual/spiritual arena. I’m not sure this fits what I am experiencing here. Gary (smiling): I’m always falling into the word game to describe these experiences that are beyond words!

Pat: We experience the dynamics in the field that we are. We have strengths and we have weaknesses. We are in a war with our opponent. We need to have a strategy and know our strengths and weaknesses. Gary: You bring the raw material into the field, the sacred, the awesome. And we need to take time for that energy, that creative sacred and awesome energy, to arrive fully before we start creating with it – before we “form” it. It comes as a fluid and formless unmanifest substance out of which the manifest is created, brought forth. We must be reverential until “the fullness of time is come.” (Note: There is an interesting description on this fluid nature of the female aspect of God and the process of creation in Pathwork Lecture 20 God: The Creation ¶15-16).

Pat: We are talking about love. We are in the formless place, the co-creative zone. Life is a flow of energy. Change is Life – coming into form. Gary: And as Adyashanti says, we take in the love and then give it all away. Mystery. Pat: This is the movement of love, the nature of the Divine, form and formless. We are learning to be this, to participate in this dynamic.

Gary: I’m recalling wounds you have shared from your childhood, and wounds from my childhood. I am recognizing the Life Force in you that was shut down in these wounding experiences, and likewise the Life Force in me that was shut down in my wounding experiences. These were necessary experiences for us to accomplish our healing and growth. Pat: And I’m feeling into the young one in you who was so starved, the one who grew up wanting the spiritual connection so badly, one who betrayed his deepest longing, and one who unconsciously turned this unmet longing into rage and rape energy toward the female. Not just in you but in the males of the planet. This feeds the male rage against the female on a global level. Gary: Boys growing up on Planet earth are starved for spiritual nourishment from Mom. Pat: In the field out there in the world there is so much male energy raping and grasping what it thinks it is starving for. BUT in the dynamic field that is us, that is you and me, the felt sense of starving and raping and grasping is held in reverence. We want to feel into and get to know this space, to work with it so it can dissolve.

Gary: My rage, unconscious to both of us in a way, rightfully terrifies you. Of course you would retreat. With my demands and rage, how could you trust me with the precious gold fluid you are bringing from “out there”? This unconscious rage in me toward the feminine is formidable energy in the collective as well. Rage, terror, revenge! Tension between male and female!

Pat: Stay with me here in this dynamic exchange place, the lemniscate (∞) place.

There is rage in you toward me fed by the starving masculine in you.

There is rage in me toward you fed by the disempowered feminine in me.

There is rage in you toward your own feminine for not feeding your own starving masculine

There is rage in me toward my own masculine for disempowering my feminine.

Gary: So healing for me requires my feminine to feed my starving masculine and healing for you requires your masculine to stop disempowering your feminine. And all of these distortions are reinforced by the culture. The masculine in the culture emphasizes form and dominates in patriarchal power bases. The feminine in the culture emphasizes the formless and is not respected or empowered. And then the culture lives in each of us individually. In religion this is seen as patriarchal, rigid fundamentalism in all religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, etc.) (rigid form – 2 Timothy 3:5: “holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power”). The planet’s masculine is starving for the spiritual (having the hollow rigid form but having lost the power of the truly spiritual) but is not being nurtured by the feminine because of the rage of the masculine coming at her from fundamentalism on all sides. We are taking on Mission Impossible!

Pat: You are using a lot of words again. All I need is your stabilizing presence, no words. Gary (feeling sheepish): OK, I hear you. … But words (form) help me stabilize myself. I can feel that stabilization as an energy. But I guess I could keep the words to myself. Pat: Can you embrace me with presence? Could you be present to my frightened, terrified feminine? … I guess, however, I should look to my own masculine to stabilize my terrified feminine.

Gary: Let me say what I see. Perhaps you need your healed masculine to hold your frightened, terrified feminine. Perhaps my healed feminine is needed to nurture my starving masculine. And perhaps for true Union you can’t come to the dynamic space of Union frightened and I can’t come to the dynamic space of Union starving.

Pat: That is a certain view using certain words – but that is not all of it. Gary: I feel like a retard, but I see that you have more to bring. We can hold what you have to bring. We can hold that. Co-creation goes on and on Pat: So I don’t have to feel I have to do anything with what you’ve said. I could simply say, “I see how you could say that, but what I am holding is bigger than what you are putting into words.” Gary: That sounds right. I need not cling to insights you or I have and that I put into words. I can accept that more will be revealed in the next moment, so I can have an insight and then just let go of it. Such is the nature of Mystery – ever revealing the new, the deeper – all fluid. Pat: So I don’t have to say anything; we just know that there will be more.

Pat (continued): We thank all the Mentor Beings who have held space for us this day.

Pat then felt it appropriate to close with the Loving Kindness Practice (open) and also, as she blew out the candle on our altar, “We are the heart and light of Christ, We are the heart and light of Christ, We are the heart and light of Christ.

Shared in love, Gary