The Inner Call of Mystical Union
From Meditation and Coffee Time with Pat – 1/8 and 1/9/2014
Each morning, while Pat does her Awakening Into Presence (AIP) practices, of late I have been using for my meditation the guided meditation of Adyashanti from his April 2013 silent retreat on Jesus Christ. The series was titled The Teachings of a Revolutionary Mystic and the meditation I use from that series is titled Breath as Life and Death. Intuitively I realize this daily meditation has been increasingly important to me these past days, though I am not sure exactly why. Suffice it to say that it quiets my mind and takes me into deep peace and Presence.
Coffee-time Wednesday January 8, 2014 (about an hour)
Pat: I found the movie we watched last night, The Reluctant Fundamentalist, quite complex, as you say – dealing as it did with the spiritual transformation of a quite successful young New York Muslim finance executive living through the 9/11 terrorist act. … What is up with you this morning? Gary: I am sitting with the question, “Who am I at my Essence?” Without being clear about this “Who am I at my Essence,” how can I serve the planet from my Essence? After most recently stepping down from leadership in MAP I see that I am not “CEO” material or even leadership material. The roles I took on, while familiar roles from my past, do not truly fit who I am at my Essence. I am not sure of what cause I am to be serving from my Essence. I feel I am in a void space. Pat: [Eagerly picking up Wallace’s book, The Seven-Point Mind Training] Let me read these words from the introduction (link to what Pat read from Wallace).
Gary: Great words! (We discussed them for a while.) What I am wrestling with is the space of not having a profession at this time in my life. I see successful people all around me who have found their passion and have run with it — following their bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say. My deep involvement with the life and music of Beethoven that I am listening to inspires me in this regard — Beethoven is such a model for me as one who lived his life through music and stayed authentic through it all. I am eager to read a biography about Beethoven that I “accidentally” found called Beethoven — His Spiritual Development by J.W.N Sullivan. Or going to the movie last night, even the Muslim Mr. Khan, in his transformation from New York finance executive to college professor in Pakistan, ended up being called to teach and was so fulfilled in this new profession. Others around me are helpers, teachers, leaders, consultants, and the like. At 71 I feel I am lost as it relates to having a profession from which I can serve. I feel lazy, listless. Pat: (boldly) Presence is your profession. Waking up is a great service. You are not who you think you are – and you have discovered this in all the roles you have tried to fill throughout your life. Your roles per se have not given you a sense of fulfillment. You are so much more than what is implied in the word profession.
Gary: My withdrawing from leadership within Mid-Atlantic Pathwork gives me a lot of space – both time and especially emotional space, not feeling the responsibility of leadership. From this place of freedom I can see and contemplate what my life has been and what lies ahead. I am not depressed about this space, this void. Not at all — even though this surprises me. But I am not fretting about what to do in my newly created space of time. I might use the word despondent to say what I feel. We looked it up: feeling or showing profound hopelessness, dejection, discouragement or gloom. Synonym: disheartened, downhearted, melancholy, blue, hopeless. But none of these definitions fit – they overstate my feelings. Perhaps lethargy is the word I am looking for. For this we found: the quality or state of being drowsy and dull, listless and unenergetic or indifferent and lazy, apathetic, sluggish inactivity. Closer, but not all of these words fit either. I still have lots of energy, but I am not sure how to direct it, what cause my energy should be serving.
Pat: I wonder what despondency and lethargy in the “field of us” means. What do these energies teach us? We can explore these feelings. Gary: The key is that we not judge these negative feelings as bad. What I see is that in the past I have tended to judge them as bad, and my pattern was to get out of such feelings. How? By finding causes to serve just as fast as I could. Retrospectively I can see that causes I chose to serve were superficial or perhaps “ought-to” causes that would take me out of the discomfort for not seeing a cause to serve. The causes I served did not seem to be calls from my Essence. Yes, working with the Pathwork Lectures, recording them all, for this I had a sense of being called from my Essence — the effortless effort of it all. I feel called to my website and all I make available on it, and especially to these blogs that I have been writing – over 400 over a nearly five-year period. All effortless effort. And yet in terms of serving a cause, I do not get a lot of feedback that anyone reads or is served in some way by all of this writing. This sense of these Pathwork activities being of little service, however, seems not to dampen my joy in doing them. This ever-present Joy in writing my blog is evidence I associate with Call, even though I am not clear on who is being served by all this writing.
Pat: From our AIP Element work (Elements being earth, water, fire, air, and void), imbalance in the Air element can be, on one end of the spectrum, over-concentration on the form side in “doing, doing, doing” leading to exhaustion or, while imbalance on the other end of the spectrum of the air element, can be over-concentration on the formless side in feeling groundless, without a sense of purpose. When the Air Element is in balance then Right Action arises from Essence moment by moment. Gary: I notice that I am challenged when I do not have a “to do” list to guide my day. I seem to think that having a “to do” list assures me that my day will be “productive” and “purposeful.” Being curious about and following life situations moment-by moment as they arise, without a “to-do” list to guide me, challenges me, yet I can see the beauty in that – breaking my need of having to be “productive” in order to have value!
Pat: I find despondency and lethargy frightening. Gary: Me too, and my defense against these feelings is “getting productive.” Perhaps we are called upon to hold the tension of despondency and lethargy until we are Called to action from our Souls – which could include being asked by someone to be of service.
Continued in Coffee Time on Thursday January 9, 2014 (about 90 minutes)
Gary: I am still reflecting on letting go of relying on form to give my life meaning – imbalance in the air element as we discussed yesterday. In dropping Mid-Atlantic Pathwork organizational roles and Pathwork roles such as teacher or helper, I can now see that, looking back over my entire life, so much of my life has been about seeking my value and meaning from the roles and achievements of my life. And I also see that, out of ignorance, I perhaps jumped too fast in picking my college, my major, my fraternity, my career, my marriage partner, my employer, my church, and the many organizations to which I belonged. Was I being called to these from my Essence? I think not, at least not deeply or totally. Rather I would get involved and then give whatever I was in my all, assuming that others, not My Essence, assessed that what I was doing was worthwhile and had a purpose.
Pat: As I did yesterday, I refer again to the foreword of Wallace’s book, The Seven-Point Mind Training. (click to open quote) You say you do not feel called to any particular role of activity just now. Maybe you are being called to the formless, to simply Being! Gary: I see that when I think of calling I think of form – called to teach, to lead, to help in some defined way, in short, called to DO something, to serve some cause “out there.” But in the formless side there are no meetings to go to, no budgets to work out, no particular roles to play, no “to do” list to follow to get some purposeful work accomplished for a worthy cause “out there.” Pat: And yet you are not at all inactive these days! You are very much with your (and our) inner landscapes. So you are intense, but your intensity is an inward looking intensity rather than an outward looking intensity.
Gary: So my Call is perhaps inward rather than the familiar outward — the standard I have used my entire life. Pat: I would agree! Your Call is an inward call these days. Gary: As such it is invisible to the outside – the Call comes but it asks for no particular outward manifestation. I remember Pema Chodron speaking of her multi-year retreat, a time for her simply to do her inner work after many years of being so productive in leading various groups, workshops, and activities and writing so many books. Or take Stephen and Ondrea Levine and their seven-year retreat after years of service and writing – a retreat shared in their book, Embracing the Beloved – Relationship as a Path of Awakening. Perhaps these were inward callings for them, calling them back to their Essences for still further purification and transformation.
Pat: For you and me these inward calls to contemplation give us a chance to see the grooves and ruts we have been in during our lifetime. This contemplation is a needed practice to give us a chance to change the person we have thought we were for our entire life.
Pat (continued): And this inward Call applies to your and my relationship as well. Think of our precious time together last Sunday afternoon. We intended to have a romantic interlude Sunday afternoon but through our contemplation you had become aware of your deep fear as it relates to your sexuality. We honored that fear, and instead of proceeding per plan with our “romantic interlude” you just rested on the bed and felt into your fear. You said it penetrated your entire body, that it was a profound experience of feeling your fear. You had not been so aware of such fear around sexuality before, and unconsciously you were stuck in it. Suddenly and gently, coming from an intuitive intention to heal your heart, I was moved to place my hand on your heart as we lay there together in silence. My action was an experience beyond thinking. It is an example of being in a state of balance in the air element – “When aligned with Essence, right action comes all by itself.” Here compassion arose out of emptiness – a compassion that is the feel of Life not restricted by our obscurations. Of course Life comes anyway, obscurations there or not — the sun shines no matter the presence of clouds. But although the Life Force keeps shining from within, the egoic self, that which is ignorant – saying it is separate when it is not – distorts Life as Life arises spontaneously moment-by-moment. Our egoic self keeps clouding out the inner Sun. What we experienced on Sunday came from the movement of energies that arose spontaneously from our alignment with Essence. And the clouds of resistance for a brief moment parted so that the Sun could shine through. As was pointed out to us by Sage and Anthony, this experience was making love to the fear that was in the field of us – that is, making love to what is here in each moment.
Pat (continued): In this experience of relating in this way we are pioneers on the planet, O Scout that you always are! So with great reverence we open the Pandora’s box of sexuality – that box that contains all of our fears, images, patterns, and distortions that we use as defenses against the Life Force that wants to arise in and shine through us – and we do this work of opening Pandora’s box for the benefit of all sentient beings. Gary: I am reminded of Pathwork Lecture 133: Love: Not a Commandment, But Spontaneous Soul Movement of the Inner Self. I would say the Pathwork Guide is expressing what you express here: “Compassion arising out of emptiness.”
Gary (continued): Changing the subject, I had to send a report to the Mid-Atlantic Pathwork Guild of Helpers indicating the number of helper and supervisory sessions I had in 2013. I was amazed at the result: 56 helper/supervisory sessions in all PLUS our 2 ½ day intensive with Sage and Anthony in June, my bi-weekly Pathwork peer conversations with Jenny, my (2) 3-day peer intensives with Jenny and Mary, and finally my participation in four sessions of Erena’s Pathwork graduate program. Pat: That’s intense! The Universe is answering your desire and hunger for spiritual nourishment! And in addition to all of this we have our coffee-time each morning. This would add another 400+ hours of our “working on ourselves” during 2013. And more and more these 1 to 2-hour coffee-time sessions feel like mini-intensives in there own right! Gary: And I experience my regular listening to the Pathwork lectures and other spiritual materials (like the 24-hour Adyashanti series on Jesus Christ) to be part of this immersion in things spiritual. Finally, I see my spiritual growth develop during the writing of these blog entries – things become clearer to me in this process of reflecting and writing. All of this relates to our inner work. I find myself inspired, enlivened by this realization – we are saying “YES!” to the internal work as we let go of the external work – your job having ended in October concurrent with my administrative work with Mid-Atlantic Pathwork, also ending in October.
Pat: We need to let go of the mindset that thinks “form” and “doings” are needed for a fulfilling life. We are working on Being — being more Present to Life and our Essence!
On this Thursday morning coffee-time we then launched into a deep conversation about our relationship and its sexual expression as we open to the experience of Mysterious and Mystical Union. These two coffee times on Wednesday and Thursday added up to 2 ½ hours of deep sharing. Combine this with our most intense yet session with Sage and Anthony on Wednesday and my very deep session with my helper Moira on Thursday (Moira’s session centered on sexuality and Union – including my fear of not feeling fearing (i.e., my fear of being free of fear), images of sex being evil, exploring how sex apart from love in a fragmented relationship is actually sin or evil, accepting all of this in our state of being merely and utterly human, etc.), and all of this followed by a coffee-time of over two hours on Friday morning. The latter again felt like a true intensive as we plumbed the depths of our relationship in its sexual expression still again. We found by the end of the day on Friday that we were emotionally exhausted! It was as if we had had a three-day intensive on sexuality and relating.
But we would have it no other way! And I record my helper sessions with Moira, our couples counseling sessions with Sage and Anthony and all of our coffee times. I am also the scribe taking notes during our coffee time. All of this recording and documenting are done in the spirit of honoring what transpires – a precious treasure of spiritual life experience. What I have shared here is, of course, but a fraction of all that was experienced in these three days.
In case I do not share more from my session with Moira this past Thursday, one point that was potent for me and relates to my Call is the following. Before I got into Pathwork in September of 2000 I had my first exposure to the Pathwork lectures. I had been drawn to the book Creating Union mostly because of its title. I did not know the material was channeled nor did I know there were Pathwork programs. All I knew was that I was drawn to this book of Pathwork Lectures called Creating Union — the Essence of Intimate Relationship. This book draws from a dozen or so Pathwork lectures that deal with sexuality in the context of spirituality and wholeness – introducing the idea that Eros is the Life Force, that wholeness in relating to a mate includes intellect, feelings, the body, and the spirit, the notion that our sexuality is a good indicator of our spiritual and emotional health, etc. I shared with Moira that as I read this first book of Pathwork lectures I was deeply moved – saying out loud as I read these pages back then, “Yes! Yes! Yes! This is it. This is what I have been longing for my entire life!” This was the first time I shared this experience with Moira. Her response was immediate: “Clearly Gary, your relationship with a woman is your deepest commitment in this life, your core Calling!” I felt quite affirmed in my journey by Moira’s observations here.
Pat has a similar sense for her life. We sense the depth of wounding and blocks we have around our sexuality, deeper than for most people perhaps, and we take this healing work on in answer to our Calling! It is hard work, scary work to be sure, but nonetheless effortless effort as we go through the healing process moment by moment.
Shared in love, Gary