Friday, March 12, 2010

Guest Blog: Teresa Lutrell On Losing a Child & The Dark Night

Sometimes things happen that push us to the very depths of despair. In the aftermath of my son’s death there were only two things I could anchor myself on: that God is all there is, and that God is Good. These two truths, for me, are absolute. And if they are true, the logical progression is that all there is, is Good.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

Our human definition of Good is ease, comfort and desired outcome, while God’s definition, in my opinion, is that which grows our soul. ‘Growing our soul’, to me, means whatever brings us closer to Unity consciousness. This definition of Good is not always easy, and in fact may feel like tragedy and involve the hardest things we’ve ever encountered.

When we enter into the ‘dark night of the soul’, tools that have worked in the past stop working. When we come up against something we did not want, have prayed to have changed, and the situation pushes us to the absolute limits and strips us down to the barest of essentials, then we are being offered a great gift, an opening and opportunity to move from the second kingdom of consciousness to the third.

Religious Science is really great about helping people move into the second level of consciousness, where we learn we are spiritual beings capable of co-creating with God; this is the realm of ‘done by me’. (The first kingdom is victim consciousness; second ‘done by me’, third ‘thy will be done, through me’; fourth kingdom is Unity consciousness). Sometimes, however, we miss opportunities to begin to move into the third kingdom when difficult challenges are viewed as failures of consciousness because a desired demonstration isn’t made. But what looks like failure is actually an invitation.

Prayer is not always answered with ‘yes’. Spiritual laws exist, but God is beyond law—the creator of Law, but not its subject. An example of prayer being answered with no is Jesus’ prayer in the garden to ‘take this cup from me’. God’s answer was no, because the no was of greater benefit to the growth of Jesus’ soul—the path to complete Unity consciousness. We manifest stuff easily if it supports our growth or makes no difference, but treatment may not work if the particular issue is what will bring us to our knees, break us open--if the no will grow our soul more, through our struggle, surrender and acceptance, than an ease-filled yes.

‘Learn the alchemy true human beings know. The moment you accept what troubles you’ve been given, the door will open.’ --Rumi

The dark night challenges us to our core. Even Jesus cried out, ‘why do you forsake me?’ The dark night is NOT EASY. It is, however, transformative (‘alchemy’ means transformation). Surrendering and accepting opens the door to trusting the Good that God is, allowing It to flow through us, in whatever form it takes. Trusting God allows us to release our illusions of control and our exhausting habits of separation. The Dark Night moves us closer to true realizaton and unification, closer to the revelation of the simple joy of living
as God in this material world.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

What To Do When I Think I Am Not Good Enough

Have you ever had the thought, "I am not good enough."? Do you ever feel insecure about your looks, talents, wealth, health and a hundred other things? Do you blame your parents, or education, or God or life circumstances? Do you ever blame your DNA, mental hardwiring or other biological factors? Have you tried to reprogram your thoughts? Have you tried everything, and nothing seems to work? Have you spent your life 'working on yourself"? Consider this possibility:

My experience now is that the work is being done ON us, not BY us. The Living Emotions, all of them, especially the so called negative Emotions, have personality and intention. These Emotions are making us into something we are not yet. Emotions are not just chemicals and neural synapses, but rather Emotions use our neurons and DNA as a means to make us. We humans want to try to understand and control the neurons and DNA, but they are just the neutral channels of the Gods much as a TV monitor is a channel of signals broadcast from Hollywood or New York, and sent through the air waves.

We are not our feelings, but we are The Emotions. Feelings are our current experience of soul. Emotions are universal archetypes working in and on all human beings. Don't confuse the two. Feelings change with my life and level of consciousness, Emotions are eternal teachers that grab us by the ear and drag us into the classroom of life. Grief is an Eternal Emotion or universal experience, however, each human 'feels' grief in his or her own way, depending on ones age, personality, peer environment, level of consciousness, cultural view of the Emotion, etc. These feelings will change as we grow up and become individual souls rather than just one of the herd of humans. This is the wonder of Emotions.

My "insecurity" or "low self esteem" is a tool of the gods, and not PRIMARILY the result of bad parenting or some other bad break life handed me. Our 'dysfunctional' parents or peers are very functional; they gave us the gifts of what we call abuse and low self esteem in order that we might work through those difficult algebraic equations in this life. They are my assignments, my soul-making challenges, as hard as they may be. "Blessed are those who are broken and mourn, who are persecuted (abused)," Jesus said.

That is why Jesus told us to love our 'enemies,' because they gave us our biggest mathematical problems to solve in life. Life is not so much about living with high self esteem as it is moving through my experiences of low self esteem. Without resistance, muscles atrophy, shrivel up and we become immobile. Our worst problems are the raw materials of our soul's energy.

Now that doesn't excuse the abuser or offender. They are culpable. As Jesus said, "In this world you SHALL receive offenses, but woe to those through whom they come." In other words, these abusers are responsible for their (our) abuses, AND paradoxically the abuses we receive are the gifts of soul-making.

Personally, I think the reason I keep thinking I am 'not good enough' is simply because I'm not! I am not as good looking as some, or as tall, healthy, talented, smart, etc. -- so when the thought is sent by the gods, "You are not good enough," I say, "Thank you for reminding me." Then I can go on and just be the self my world, including my parents, has made me to date.Why fight it? None of is good enough. When called good, Jesus said only the Father in heaven was good. That is not so much a profound theological statement as it is a reality check. The truth is that at times I am simply a loser. I heard a race car driver say, "When I come in second, I am really just the first loser." Brilliant! He said it with a smile on his face! Losing, low self esteem, thoughts of not good enough and all of the stuff we are trying to eradicate are gifts in a soul-making universe. The fact is, no one is good enough, or we would be done with this educational process called life. So relax, enjoy your inadequacies and low self esteem.

All Relationships Are for Making Unique Souls

"If you only follow your own passion according to its own indications it will never go too far, it will always lead to its own defeat." Marie Louise von Franz, Alchemy, An Introduction, p. 254

The Soul of Relationships: The Tests of Love

After years of theological, psychological and religious studies, the examination of various spiritual systems, practicing spiritual techniques, teaching classes on World Religions and Mythologies, I have come to the tentative conclusion that we are on this planet to make a personal soul by going through our own unique experiences in something like 'Earth School'. Please do not misunderstand this to be some sort of gnosticizing attitude that devalues "ordinary" life. The classes are comprised of all ordinary events, emotions, thoughts and phenomena in general.

These various life 'classes' each of us experiences are primarily found in our relationships. The word, ‘relationship’, is most often connected with romance or other significant people. While our relationships do include important people, we also have relationships with places, ideas and things. So then, a relational list might include partners, lovers, children, friends, enemies, work, school, homes, cars, clothes, ideas, politics, religion, health, illness, body image--the list is endless. Relationships include any event or experience where we encounter physical, emotional, ideational or volitional cooperation or resistance. That can happen in a marriage, in freeway traffic, in my thought life, buying a car, or in any internal or external situation where physical or psychological, visible or invisible entities meet. The co-operational variety are typically pleasant, while the resistance variety are typically painful. It is the painful events of resistance and conflict which are most significant for making your soul in Earth School. Remember, the Universe began with a Big Bang, not a Big Hug. The same Universe progresses as an ongoing explosion of purposefully disintegrating and reintegrating chunks of ‘space debris’. Chaos and design are the building blocks of all relationships, and the path to making your unique soul.

Relationships build souls just as lifting weights builds muscle. Resistance is normal and necessary. The aim of life is NOT to live in constant happiness and peace, as much as we may desire it. This observation is contrary to much current New Age spiritual teaching. The aim of life is to make a unique soul for eternity through ALL life situations-- the good, the bad and the ugly.

I now see that difficulties and suffering are not primarily due to original sin or a dysfunctional human ego. The ego is a wonderful little seed pod containing the flower of a growing soul. Just as the dark soil and stinky fertilizer breaks open the literal seed pod to grow the flower; so too all of the myriad challenges in our thousands of daily relationships disintegrate the human ego seed pod containing the soul's eventual flower, helping us grow to divine maturity.

However, I don’t think our focus ought to be on reaching maturity or waiting for the ‘wholeness’ to arrive, but rather to be conscious and aware of the soul-making poem in each encounter with a person, place, thought or emotion. Soul is being made in every relationship, in every moment. Our conscious participation in every conversation and emotional response allows us to live purposefully in every situation, and free from 'waiting' to arrive at wholeness. Wholeness is a circle that includes the good, the bad and the ugly--the whole process of making a unique soul.

When Jesus told his followers to ‘love their enemies,’ he wasn’t looking to create a group of bleeding heart pacifists. He was reminding them that relational resistance stirs and evokes our emerging consciousness, cracks open the seed of soul. This is often difficult work and if we really mean it when we say, “It is ALL God,” then ALL of it really is God. Now, let’s go relate and watch our soul’s blossom!

Using Your Art, Talents and Soul-making

It seems to me that our 'talents' are primarily for soul-making, for accessing the living archetypes, or what the ancients called God, or the *gods and goddesses, through our various so called gifts. One person writes, one draws, one dances, one carves wood, one raises children, one cooks, one plays football, many "arts" or ways to access the resources and raw materials of our souls. What Howard Gardner calls the various intelligences, it seems to me, are ways to access soul.

The Great Unconscious is always moving in us to carve out the unique psychological pumpkin each of us is, to make an individual face and place a light inside. Jung called this individuation, The Bible calls it being made in the image and likeness of God.

Sadly, I think, we have largely lost that primary function of our talents and turned them into only social functions or personal esteem functions. We 'do' art for recognition or money rather than allowing art to do us. There are social and personal aspects to our talents, but most fundamentally our talents and gifts are our connections to the *gods, or God, as they commune with us, and make us unique individuals.


*By using the plural 'gods' I don' mean to question or undermine monotheism. I am just recognizing that humans have expressed their soul-making experiences in different ways in each culture. Even Christian monotheists have a Trinity; Jews and Muslims speak of the One True God as "We" or "Us," and polytheists like the Greeks have Zeus as the chief deity, or speak of The Unknown God. Don't allow your theological correctness to miss the point, namely, our talents and gifts are primarily ways and means to become conscious and move into our completed souls.