Spiritual Quest – Stepping Stones and Lilly Pads

24/02/2017

Jai Daemion © 2010 Syncresis

PART I.  PREPARING TO MEET ‘THE GREAT UNKNOWN’

Do you know what it means to go on a ‘spiritual quest?’

Let’s look at it with unusual openness.

Beginning a spiritual quest means that you are choosing to set off on a path to an unknown destination – a path that will take you through lands that you have never heard of, where you will face obstacles that you cannot prepare for, requiring resources that you do not know you have and leading somewhere you cannot imagine.

You will never know when your journey is completed, or when it will end. Whenever you feel that you have ‘made it,’ you have not; whenever you feel as though you cannot take another step, you must; whenever you believe that your goal is in-sight, it will be but a mirage; whenever you try to talk to others about your journey you will not have words for what you are experiencing. Others will not understand, though they may believe that they do, because they are living in their own subjective confusion and so cannot see your difference through their own projections.

As you move along on your journey, you will be master of nothing and wholly ‘at effect.’ Nothing will be predictable and nothing will be understandable in terms of your past. Whatever you have already learned will not address what you still need to discover. Things that once served you as supports or crutches in the past will cease to exist or may become suddenly intolerable. And you will not know why.

Your preparations for your journey will come to nothing: you will have prepared for Fire and then find yourself sucked into a whirlpool of Water. If you prepared for Water, there will be Wind. You may be ‘guided’ before and during some parts of your journey (from wherever your guidance may come) but there will also be times when your guidance simply is not with you – and these times are likely to occur in the face of your greatest crises.

It will not matter, on this journey, whether you are holding the ‘magic crystals of Divine Encumbrance,’ the mala of an Incarnate Avatarial Magnificence, or volumes or scrolls or tablets of Holy Writ, relics of Great Others, images of The Ascended Masters or a ‘medicine bag.’ You can chant mantra as you walk, you can stare into celestial space, you can form the holy mudras or you can blow a conch to the four – or five – or seven – directions, and it will not matter at all: you are walking into ‘The Great Unknown’ and there is no lamp that can light your way.

This is the nature of the true spiritual quest: it is a journey from the known into the unknown, it is a leap into The Great Abyss, it is a flight into the center of the black hole of total uncertainty; a flight into the center of the Sun.

If this adventure was not inherently, well, terrifying, then everyone would be a yogi and whatever we call ‘enlightenment’ would be the baseline of open consciousness from which we would all begin… our very next spiritual quest. As it is, we have untold, unknown and unknowable defenses that collude to keep us within our cultural ‘comfort zones.’ Most of us, that is: some will always want to explore beyond whatever myths drive the culture of their incarnations.

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Because we are all so painfully expressed (and reflected) through egoic behaviors, we often try to shore up our fear of the Quest by wearing ‘special clothes,’ amulets, ethnic art – whatever. And we learn to talk in ‘spiritual’ ways and try to meet others in true humility – or not. Whatever. But all of these things serve only one ultimate purpose: they are a declaration by your ego to other egos that you are a spiritual being. Or wish you were, or will soon be. This is often a harmless dance and can help to consecrate your spiritual intention. Just don’t fall for believing that ‘it’ means anything at all.

Living in a materialistic world that is gorging itself on spiritual fast food as it plunges into the Kaliyuga – the regularly occurring lowest point on the long cycles of consciousness and spirit – you may find encouragement, camaraderie and some moments of relative peace with other, like-minded souls. Those who honor and respect your path. Lovers, perhaps, or others you can sing and dance with ‘in Spirit’s open Love.’ But this is not The Quest. No indeed. This is merely the base-camp at the foot of Mt. Everest, where climbers (and would-be climbers) gather to swap stories of adventures in the lofty heights. And there are a lot more people who have shared base-camp experiences than have ever even attempted the final ascent. The apres-skiers at St. Moritz; the armchair quarterbacks gathered around their TV sets; the Sunday-Christians looking their most pious in church for an hour every week. Base-camp dreamers all. If this is all you want, this is so easy to create. You are probably sitting in it right now. But if you want to make a true Spiritual Quest, there is simply nothing else to do but to push back from all these sumptuous tables of good cheer and self-delusion and walk out into the snow alone – with no direction, no light and no knowledge of what lies ahead.

The Spiritual Quest begins when you realize that you know nothing at all, and realize that there is nothing else to do but to surrender in to total openness. That is, letting go. That is, letting go as much as you can at every instant, knowing that you cannot possibly imagine (nor can your favorite books reveal) what lies in front of you. In front, behind, above, below, inside.

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Does this mean that you can go on a ‘true’ spiritual quest simply by holding a large rock and jumping off a boat into the open sea? Probably so: for there is time enough in a single breath to process the whole of a lifetime of experience and to surrender into infinity. But we are fragile creatures. We need so much emotional support for every tentative step. And even if we are willing to die in our Quest, there is no reason just to throw life away. This would make no more sense than throwing away Spirit or God or Infinity if such presence were riding beside you in your little boat. And if they were – if it was – why ever would you choose to jump off?

Perhaps we had better just row back to shore and think this through more carefully. Surely there must be a better way!

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The good news and the bad news are one and the same: the world is filled with spiritual ‘experts.’ Gurus, teachers, guides, scholars, shamans, channeled masters and ascended everything-you-can-imagine. We have religious and spiritual lore that goes back thousands of years – and the older the text, the closer to God, right? And during the past hundred years or so, virtually all of this lore has been brought within our reach. Ultimately it has always been thus: There are no hidden spiritual truths. Every truth is written on the wall and sings from every living cell of every being. There are only those who have not yet learned to read or hear it, and so do not recognize the presence or the implicit meaning of this constant reiteration of absolute simplicity.

There is one truth. There is one breath. There is one consciousness. There is but a single word.

So if you can read, in any tongue, everything is already laid out for your eyes. If you cannot read, it is all laid out for your touch, your feeling, your breath, your dream, your surrender. It is not important which vehicle you use to attain insight: only that you let it in.

So you prepare for your Spiritual Quest – and by now you will hopefully understand that the ‘quest’ may be a total commitment for your entire lifetime – or far beyond – with no promise of anything at all as a reward and no guarantee of any particular attainment to make it all worthwhile. It will simply be your experience – or it will not. Your choice may be limited to whether you take that first step or not – and whether you then take the next, and the next, etc. Beyond that, “We are all virgins to our every next experience.”

And sometimes… there is simply nothing else to do but to let go of one virginity only to open to the fears and wonders of yet one more moment of experience.

This is absolutely essential: “We are all virgins to our every next experience” means exactly that: unknowing, unprepared and vulnerable. Uncertain. Afraid. And yet you must act, breathe, feel and be. And whatever you  do, holding awareness of your spiritual (and epistemological, mental, emotional and karmic) virginity in your awareness is the ideal state for appreciating The All and Everything” – all the meaning of all the experience that lies ahead, and all that lies within.

So you set out to prepare: you join an ashram, you read the current crop of spiritual books that ‘everyone’ is reading, you go to the ‘right’ musical events, eat local foods, ride a bicycle, wear a Tibetan woolly cap, and maybe even ask a guru for a spiritual name. As you make these changes in what is rightly called ‘life-style’ (because participating in any ‘style’ is a choice, an affect), you will likely find yourself grazing in a wild-flowered meadow with other soft-eyed ruminants. And for a while, perhaps you will find support, acceptance, guidance and encouragement there. You will have found your deer herd and you will feel as One. On the path to the very next mouthful of soft, raw, sustainable and locally grown, organic grass.

The little herd is a satsang – a gathering of like-minded individuals who have moved away from the mainstream of life to follow a spiritual path together. You may not call it a satsang, but once you recognize your ‘spiritual family,’ you will be in the experience of satsang. In the cool meadow, with your nose in the flowers, dreaming of world peace and the enlightenment that will surely come.

Now of course you may be fortunate enough to realize already that within this protected lifestyle, within this spiritual herd, as it were, it would not really matter whether you read a beautifully crafted book of Sufi wisdom or spent the same time looking at the underside of a piece of bark. The ‘message’ is recorded everywhere, in everything, in infinite variation and in infinite sameness. In fact, it may fairly be stated that if you cannot find Infinity and Spirit in the scruffy stuff on the underside of a piece of bark, you are unlikely to find it in any spiritual book – but that is an epistemological issue for another time.

Traditionally, spiritual groups prize specific – indeed, very specific – sources above all others. And if you want to taste the sweet green grass of the meadow, then sometimes you have to live with other deer. And they will show you what to do – and what not to do. If you get restless and begin to do more… the other deer will run away. So you learn. And this might be very nice… for a while. Deer are really beautiful creatures and their society is relatively balanced and in harmony with the Earth. So it is difficult to say this but, alas, it must be said:

If you are going to become one with Infinity – with pure consciousness – then you will have to let your experience move far beyond looking at grass and wildflowers (and other deer’s backsides) in the Meadow of Perfect Peace. Of course it is only because of our limitations of Vision that we need different manifestations to awaken us to that which unites and expresses… everything. You may need to experience the Mother Ocean, the sharp peaks of the mountaintop, the desolation of the great desert, or the center of the core of the Earth. Maybe the underside of a piece of bark throbbing with fungal life. Any or all of the above. But whatever it is that you need to experience in order to grow, sooner or later you will have to leave the meadow and begin to explore what lies beyond.

There are many ways to do this. Looking at the underside of a piece of bark has already been suggested. It is truly as good as anything. Or a wilted flower, pond scum, or whatever: same-same. And the good news is that you can actually do this, right in the meadow, right in the comfort of the presence of the other deer… at least until they notice what you are doing! Once they make this discovery, then you will have less and less peace. The peer-pressures of the herd to eat what they eat, to read what they read, to chant as they chant can be very subtle. But these pressures can also be enormous. This kind of peer pressure (would we say, deer-pressure?’) is not based so much on rigid rules, but on something called the Law of Attraction. If you want deer warmth and companionship, then you will want to attract them to you (and vice-versa).

But the time will come (for no satsang can last forever) when you begin to feel other pulls. If you are not a very good dancer and able to shift your balance as wave after wave of conditioning programming is played through your communications and your head, you may find that there is no longer any time, or space, or support in the herd for bark-watching. And whenever this happens, you will have to be brave enough to make that very next step. Stepping out into ‘The Great Unknown.’

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From here on it is all the journey of Sidhartha. It is all a snowboarding leap into empty mountain air. It is all surrender to a swirling, raging river. It is sitting in the rain in the gutter of Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. It is floating on smiles through your healthy food store. It is a broken down Chevy in Good-Ol-Boy, Mississippi. It is anything. It is everything. It is nothing. And from now on… it will never go away!

From this point, you can try anything to break away, get away, change your reality. But once you have touched into nothingness… you can never get away from it! Might as well just be in it. For sometimes… there is simply nothing else to do.

Your special ‘spiritual’ clothes, the beads, the ritual greetings, the favorite books can all begin to fall away now. There is no longer any need for props or posing or acting out ‘spiritual’ ways of being. For now you realize that being is spiritual… or it is not. It’s how you do it that matters. From now on you will likely wear whatever you have that creates the least reaction from others in any culture or social situation, to leave you the most freedom to move around inside your clothes and within the social milieu. You meet people eye to eye, heart to heart and (somehow try to) find patience as other ‘seekers’ lavish you with reading suggestions, imaginary ‘mystical signs’ and sharing of their sacred stones, medicine rattles and toxic smudge. You find patience as you listen to guru stories, praise shamanic cultural artifacts ripped from the context of some ancient tribe and sing the songs of Rainbow Dreaming. You are patience, as others innocently talk you away from your meeting in the here-and-now perfection of infinite experience. Yours, theirs, ours, its.

“Oh! If you are into looking at tree bark, you would absolutely love this book!”

Or… “I was just at a sacred sexuality retreat and we learned an ancient, Siberian shaman-dance to awaken the tantric energies. Maybe it would help you see Infinity or synergy (or suggestibility) in that bark. It goes like this. You stand here… and then you turn toward your partner like this… and then you….”

Patience. If you are going to leave the meadow – if you are even going to be enough of a little rebel and raise your head during grazing time to stare at a distant mountain top – you will need patience to disengage. Simple rebellion is not enough: knowing that you need to move on does not easily give you the strength to leave the comfort of the herd.

Moving on in to ‘The Great Unknown:’ It is like a rocket ship leaving Earth’s gravity. A rocket needs to accelerate to 17,000 miles per hour to break away from Earth’s gravity and break in to free space – and it takes an enormous thrust of will to reach ‘escape velocity,’ even in a gentle herd of deer. Fortunately, where consciousness is concerned, ‘escape’ is as simple as true surrender: it is effortless. But the resistance of the entire human system around can feel like the Earth struggling to hold a space explorer in its gravitational embrace. After all, suck is suck, whatever its source (or its intention).

“I have read The Book! What do you mean you don’t need The Book? The Book is the Universal Truth!”

“You know, The Buddha once said… ”

“Oh… did she?”

It is rarely said but it is often implicit. Once you are really stepping out, not only Born-Again Christians, but Hindus, Sufis, Wiccans, Buddhists of all stripe, Theosophists, Anthroposophists, Materialists, Animists, Humanists, Feminists, Atheists, Religionists, Anthropologists, Metaphysicists, Vulcanologists and Psychologists will all assail you with their ‘special books’ and ‘studies-have-shown’ points of minimal experiential relevance. And as these projections are cast upon you, they will likely not even comprehend that there could be anything in the entire infinity of Spirit that was not included in the system in which they have placed all of their faith – and all their need. And all their fear, all of their ego, and all hope. And you will not be able to tell them in any language that they can possibly hear… that there is something else… that it is available to anyone who would surrender into the simplicity of Infinity… and that it is already alive within the experience of every human being, just waiting to be noticed.

“Where are you going on your Spiritual Quest?”

“I don’t know.”

“What do you expect to find?”

“Nothing.”

“Then why are you leaving The Meadow?”

“Because sometimes… there is simply nothing else to do….”

Are we not the very strangest of barely conscious beings? We are alive in the very midst of pure wonder and infinite oneness and we are so busy ‘being spiritual’ in our different little herds, that we miss the possibility of simply being – whole, complete, conscious, integrated and in oneness with ‘The All and Everything.’

Strange choices. But for now, at least, the grass in the meadow is sweet and green and we have songs to sing and hi-tech, purple yoga mats with tight=fitting yoga-tights to bring us a little closer to Godliness. And many of us live in a pleasant, shared delusion that we are somehow in creative control of our minds and our destinies.

Or are we…?

To really believe that we are ‘creating’ our reality is only to admit that we have excluded everything beyond our awareness, beyond our wildest imagination. Seems a strange choice – and a self-limiting position.

And anyway… in time, winter comes equally to sylvan meadows and to land-fills alike and each is hidden under soft blankets of snow. Sometimes it is hard to know which way to go.

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Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism is the title of an old book by a Tibetan lama, Chogyam Trungpa (Shambhala, 1971). This book is an object, a ‘thing.’ You do not need to read the book to understand the invitation: things are of the material world. Things are manifestations of matter. Objects. No object is needed for your spiritual growth. To believe that things are essential to spiritual growth (or to reflect higher spiritual consciousness) is a vanity. A mere projection of ego. And this must include, of course, any printed word. Including this Word.

That said, some may put aside ‘things’ to be closer to their own, pure experience. For those who are leaving here, now, Aloha! For those who have chosen to stay, Aloha! Apparently we must go on…

In recent years, given the gift of time to allow us to concentrate on spiritual pursuits (note that pursuit implies a chase), our minds have become very facile. Most understand the notion that all time exists all of the time, that here-and-now is but a way of processing experience rather than a cosmic absolute.

This brings good news! After you have let go of all of your showy spiritual props and affects, you may feel very naked and alone. But you are very brave. You are totally committed and you are going to do this spiritual quest no matter what! This is a wonderful dedication and commitment. But it is not quite a consecration. Not yet. What is missing is a simple piece of awakening. Let’s put your experience in the context of timelessness: everything you are experiencing has ‘always’ existed. All of your past is still alive and is dancing with all your future experience. Purely to protect you from the overwhelm of Infinity (by definition, it is just too much!), your mind has literally been formed around a perception of a moment which we call ‘now’ (for want of a better word).

If you can understand that this is even possible, then this is all you need. There is no need to ‘prove’ anything: whatever is real and important to you will be self-revealed (and self-revealing) with-in your experience as you are able to experience it. Trust your place: you are doing very well!

If everything already exists – all past, all future, all beings, all universes – then where you are ‘going’ on your spiritual journey is already right here, right now.

Consciousness is Infinite. So easy to say, so hard to realize. Let us say this: you may come to realize that consciousness fills this universe (and all others as well) and is One with Infinity. Whatever. Don’t believe anything until you experience it for yourself. Until then, words are just words and the best they can do is to tickle your interest. Because…

The discoveries that you will make along your spiritual journey already exist. And somewhere, you are already ‘there.’ It only remains for you to find it: to let it in to your awareness.

It is common to speak of spiritual consciousness as ‘higher’ or ‘deeper’ than ordinary consciousness (whatever that is). This is a materialistic, hierarchical and implicitly patriarchal way of understanding difference. Spiritual consciousness is simply allowing more of ‘The All and Everything’ (or, if you prefer, Infinity) to flow through your experience. So your spiritual journey is a journey to no-where and the spiritual consciousness you may discover has always existed. It is omnipresent in the infinity of universes and it is always present in you. What will be new is only this: that you will open to experience a little more of this consciousness than before. Maybe, in time, much more. Maybe, beyond time, ‘The All’. But that does not matter (at all). Until you are one with the experience of Infinity, it is only an idea. Frankly, a spiritual masturbation fantasy. That which we aspire to and imagine that we are for a few moments of needed pleasure, release and neurological reintegration. And in that moment of surrender, “Oh God…!” says It All.

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WHERE THERE IS FEAR, MEANING IS NEAR

So you want to celebrate Change and Becoming?

Then simply let go and become Change itself. Ride the lip of the wave of becoming that unfolds continuously from the dance of the winds. Let it carry you over the edge of your beliefs and free-fall into the infinite arms of Life renewing itself and self-awakening consciousness. In you, in you discovering Change that Becomes You.

Step up to the very edge of what you know and then step off in to ‘The Great Unknown.’ Wherever you seem to find new balance, go to the very edge of the known world and step off again. Wherever you alight, rest, breathe… and step off the edge again. Over and over and over again. You will know where to go: you need only follow your fears. For Where there is Fear, Meaning is near!”

When you really let go, your free-fall will be self-regulated and controlled by your fears. Somewhere on every infinite out-breath, Fear will catch you and take control of your entire being so quickly and subtly that you may not even notice its intrusion. You will be letting go, becoming ever more open, soaring into timeless space and suddenly, your journey pauses. Perhaps the cat jumped into your lap, perhaps your phone dinged news of a text. Maybe you think you suddenly needed to check the time of a coming appointment. Itchy nose? Why not? La de da.

Whatever it is that (you think) called you back does not matter at all. Whatever it was and whatever it will be next time has only one name and its name is Fear. Nothing else holds you away from realizing Infinity. Nothing else can control you so subtly that you are constantly fooled by its ploys. Nothing else can account for the synchronicity of outer-world intrusions that suddenly pop into your awareness. You are pointing your self toward Spirit, right? Then what keeps you from allowing Spirit to full-fill you? To connect you with Infinity and infinite Consciousness? There is only one possibility. Once you realize this simplicity, then there is only one way to move through it. Yes, that old pop-spiritual saying: ‘the way out is the way in.’

If Fear is the only stopper, then your only need is to find ways of moving through it. A hint: denial will not work. Magically dispelling it or transmuting it with a mantra can only work in the near-field of your awareness. But the fears that you know of are not the fears that are ultimately holding you back. The fear that holds you away from oneness with Spirit – Infinity – God – Consciousness lives far beneath your awareness.

The entire path of your yoga – whatever its form or appearance – needs only to meet, address and clear through the myriad fears that are working with amazing interactive precision to hold your experience within whatever boundaries you don’t even know you need. Your fears are containing the fountaining of experience, feeling, awareness, consciousness that urges to rise up within you with every breath, every touch, every vision and every word that flows through you. There is simply nothing else standing in your way. So… if you want to celebrate change and becoming, just let go and become Change. And everything you do to move toward this goal of total surrender will either serve or limit your unfolding into wholeness, oneness and peace. And through it all… you might find this simple mantra user-friendly: ‘Where there is Fear, Meaning is near.’

You are a self-healing, self-unfolding, self-integrating and self-revealing consciousness. Take away the stops and blocks and feel the change that becomes you. Gently, self-lovingly, just let go. For in the end, after all the sacred dances, special books and satsang meadows… there is simply nothing else to do.

Every tension in your body, every airy flight of your mind, every withheld feeling, every unfulfilled longing, every pain is simply a reflection and an expression of your programmed belief that you need to hold yourself away from total surrender. Think about it for a moment!

Bits of repressed feeling break loose and ache for release through breath, through movement, through sharing, through your awakening. Whenever you are ready, you can open to accept them and invite their release. Dive into every pool of feeling. Welcome every uprising bubble of memory and even Fear itself.

Allow everything to find its natural place with in your awareness. Trust your self to be self-revealing, self-integrating, self-expanding – until you begin to lose your self at the far edges of awareness. Then you can begin to see how silly self can be… to even imagine that it is.  But this will come in its own good time. It is far easier to read about ‘selflessness,’ than it is to allow it to transform your experience. And there is never any need to hurry. Are flower buds impatient to open? Who can tell? They seem to wait so well….

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Once you really take this in, once you really begin to understand what is implied in this realization, many things may happen very quickly. These basic principles of awareness and the essential urgency and wholeness of experience are not foreign concepts. They are neither complex nor abstract. In fact this state of openness is exactly what awakened in you as your body-mind formed within your mother’s womb. Openness is the gift of Being. It is a mystery, as is consciousness, but it is natural to each flower and it is natural to you.

Returning to a state of openness now, after so many years of cultural programming of what and how (and when and if) to think and feel and be is an amazing experience! Strange and familiar, it may feel like a gentle settling in to a new-old state of peace. It is the feeling of coming Home at last. And in this Home you can just let go of all the myths and all the human-made theories, beliefs and systems. Let go of all your imprinted dogmas of beliefs and burdens of culture. Here, Truth is what you know from your own (infinite) experience. And here you can discover that the spiritual journey is not a movement to a different place: it has been happening all along, all around and inside you.

The path to consciousness is not a path for walking, it is the path-way of surrender that only invites you to let go and open to let consciousness in. The more you can let go of your resistance (fear), the fears of others that have been programmed into your child’s openness, beliefs that have been implanted in you through the power of patriarchal (or matriarchal) authority… the more you can let go of Fear, the more awareness you will be able to allow.

If you could begin right at this moment to let go of any small presence of fear-tension-dogma-theory-belief-program that is being held anywhere in the whole of your body-mind, you would experience Life flowing in to fill the places that Fear has held for so very long. A tear or two released invites a realization or two to take its place. Emotion surrendered in to genuine expression and release frees you to feel something new. And when you do not need to hold tight in fear, wonder can once again open within you. And when it does, you will know.

Remember: You are a self-unfolding, self-healing, self-revealing, self-releasing incarnation of consciousness that moves through myriad dimensions of your experience that exist far beyond all that you can yet imagine. You are consciousness. The spiritual journey has already happened! It has always been happening. You only need to open your self to let it in.

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Now you are opening. Your spiritual quest has begun. You are exploring the little things that help you to let go. The feeling of a pillow against your cheek. Its softness to your hand. You step gently in to running water – or maybe only a muddy puddle – and change flows up through you. You are standing in change. You are becoming Change and Change is becoming you.

Is it ‘energy?’ Is it prana? Is it yin (feminine) energy from the Mother Earth? Is it the contraction of your circulatory system in the coolness of the water? Is it a message from your Guidance? Of course! It is all of this. It is The All and Everything. But as soon as you stop (note: as soon as you stop) to think – to name it, to fit it into something you have read, to match it up with some ancient wisdom – then ‘it’ stops. Your openness stops, your experience of whatever-it-was stops.

If you experience this little dance for many years, in many different ways – and if you are very fortunate – then one day you will begin to feel what happens within your experience just before you stopped the flow by trying to understand what is happening and what it ‘means.’ It is hard to believe this simplicity before it happens to you right before your very eyes, in the depth of your own belly or in a breath that makes a tiny jerk somewhere along its way. And yet… once you see it, feel it, own it, be it, then you will begin to understand that in the very face of peace and wholeness, in the very moment of your inner flower beginning to open in to something new and wonderful, you stop the magic. You withdraw. You displace your awareness and trade open, timeless feeling for a busy mind.

It is almost unbelievable, isn’t it? Why would you do such a thing? And why (if you can bear to wonder) do you always do this in response to beauty, surrender and overwhelming peace? And love? Do you do it when you feel love as well? Do you do it when pleasure begins to fill your body? Do you do it when Infinity suddenly dissolves your self in to openness? Into nothingness?

If you could look behind the moment, if you could re-create the moment of excitement or fulfillment and then move back to feel what happened just before you shut it down… what do you imagine would be there? No, not a minute before, not a second before, but a millisecond or so before your went ‘mental.’ What can you feel there? One thing. Only one thing. Always this one thing. The only thing that has more power in your psyche than the feeling of release-peace-love-wholeness that you cut off. It is, it was, it will always be this: it is simply Fear.

Consciousness, knowing, self-realization (or whatever) is self-validating but only when it becomes real within your own experience. No dogma, theory or belief can be overlaid on your experience without causing violence to your deepest experience of openness. Fortunately, there is a direct pathway through fear. It is easy to understand that it must be released, moved through, healed in some way if openness is to continue and move you on your way But it is very hard to do this when you do not know where to look or how fear works inside you – or why it is there.

Be gentle with your self. All you need to do to begin to let go of fear, is to know that it might be there. This is the most sensitive issue that humans face – if, indeed, it is ever faced it at all.

Just pausing from unconscious flights of fear for a moment and letting this possibility of all your fear-based habits and avoid-dance become real in your imagination, begins the beautiful process of self-unfoldment that will dis-solve the blocks and pains and let you fly free at last.

There are so many paths that you can follow to begin your letting go yoga. Some will work better for you than others. But whichever paths you choose to explore, it is sometimes helpful to remember a simple, pragmatic truth: whatever path you take to surrender in to your own experience will also lead to self-integration. One-ness. So all paths to surrender, by any name or tradition, will eventually lead you Home.

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© 2010-2017 Syncresis. This material may be reproduced all or in part for non-commercial purposes, in its original form, with author and this blog referenced. Sections may be freely quoted.

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THE SEXUAL ABUSE OF A CHILD: THE WORST SEDUCTION OF ALL

23/02/2017

Mela Lullaby

This paper addresses two issues relative to the seduction and sexual abuse of children. First, the power of seduction (whether intentional or unintentional), and any child’s natural inability to ‘read’ sexual messages or nuances which have connection to an adult’s genital sexual feelings. Secondly, a comment on the severe bias (and rigidly pre-defined parameters) against adults who abuse children. Unfortunately, the stringency of mandatory reporting laws makes even confidential exploration of areas of sexual confusion pertaining to children, virtually impossible. This paper advocates a process of peer counseling which unfortunately cannot easily be implemented in many cultures at this time.

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There are many forms of seduction in this world. Individuals are ‘seduced’ into religious or political beliefs; consumers are seduced by advertising and peer pressure; and sexual seduction is assumed basic to the human sexual dance on all levels. But there is one kind of seduction which must be the worst of all: the sexual seduction of a child by an adult.

Here are a few of the ways in which adult-child seduction is unlike any other kind of persuasion, and some of the reasons why it is difficult for victims and perpetrators to be helped when this situation occurs.

• First, there is the Child. In every way, children are un-equipped to deal with the sexuality of an adult ‘intruder’ into their childhood world-of-experience.

• Children cannot possibly understand the powerful feelings and urgency that comes toward them when they become the focus of an adult’s lust.

• Their bodies and minds literally cannot process such an in-rush of unfamiliar experience.

• This experience often combines several wildly competing elements: physical discomfort (sometimes extreme pain); affection (which may otherwise be absent in the child’s life); verbal manipulations (begging, demanding, threatening, bargaining, etc., on the part of the adult); restraint (verbally and/or physically manipulated); excitement (physical and emotional); self-blame and immediate guilt – at a perception of ‘wrongness’ which they cannot understand; conflicts from wanting to give the adult abuser what s/he seems to want… and many other possibilities.

• Whatever the child experiences – both consciously and unconsciously – is likely to generate FEAR. This fear may be conscious, or immediately self-concealed by defensive processes which operate apart from a child’s conscious awareness.

• In the case of ongoing abuse, the child may perceive that s/he has no one to talk to. Even when the abused is an older child, peers cannot understand the issues involved unless they, too, have been the victims of abuse. And even when victims have each other as confidants, two people who do not understand what is happening cannot provide any sure pathway to resolution of trauma, only the partial solace of having someone else to cling to emotionally.

• So often the child ‘senses’ that what has happened is ‘wrong,’ and victims usually have to pass through feelings of self-blame and self-denigration before they can share their experience fully with their parents or other caring adults.

• Receptive and compassionate parents can offer love, but many times parents refuse to ‘believe’ their children’s reports. Also, very few parents are able to help the child process his/her abuse experience without loading their own reactions onto the child’s already overstretched experience. Any hint that the child’s issue is causing pain (or blame) in beloved parents is an enormous inhibiting force. And what parent can deal with such an event without profound discomfort – pain and rage being typical responses at deep, psychophysical levels.

• NO THERAPIST who specializes in this kind of work would approve of parents trying to deal with this multi-level and extremely complex issue without professional help. There are many potential risks to family relationships and any child’s later sexual health to make this feasible. There is also negativity which must be felt through on the child’s part, as his/her experience of abuse is freed from body and mind. This is often projected as blame (toward all adults, or toward parents/school/church who ‘let this happen to me’). Professional therapists are trained to help the victim separate these projections from wounded feelings. Parents cannot be expected to remain open and non-defensive in the face of such projections.

• Part of the manipulative rhetoric of the child sexual abuser often includes leveraging the child’s perception of his/her family (or other trusted adults) into some distorted image that suggests that other adults would approve (and may even be actively approving) of the pain and suffering that the child is going through.

• Shaming is a powerful defensive tool. When social mores prevent open discussion of intimate sexual experience (too often, of any kind), shame can be projected from all sides to blanket an issue – and by extension, personal experience – to ‘protect’ the squeamish from having to deal with it. Therapists need to be careful not to allow their personal reactions to such prissiness interfere with the job they need to do, of moving the entire family system toward resolution and healing.

• Lacking the capacity to understand adult, defensive games – such as shaming, denying, ‘smoothing over,’ etc. – a child is likely to interpret bizarre reactions from adults as implicitly ‘proving’ the warnings and suspicions planted by the abuser (or their own projective fantasies).

• In the cases of older child victims, a child can fear for the personal safety of the abuser (!) if her/his father were to discover what has been occurring. Even if the child sees the abuser as ‘wrong,’ s/he probably would not want him killed by an enraged father.

• The abusers of children are most often people who the child knows and trusts – persons known to their parents and often family relations. After (or during) experiences of abuse, children may see their parents relating warmly to their abuser and cannot deal with the internal cognitive dissonance that this creates. “If they only knew…!” easily gives way to: “Maybe they know and it is OK with them…?” Or, “If I tell my parents, they will be angry and blame me for saying bad things….” Many possibilities of generating hopeless confusion in the child exist. None of these possibilities can ‘make sense’ of their parents apparently liking and accepting the abuser even while sexual abuse – which, because of the psychological factors mentioned here, is always sexual violence – is occurring.

It would be possible to continue this list almost indefinitely: there are more ‘reasons’ why the sexual seduction and abuse of children is wrong than anyone can list – so many complex effects upon a child’s well-being (and even their sanity). What is critical to this process of understanding is that every one of the things on this list occur systemically – i.e., they often happen all at once and are all continuously interactive. As one of these elements rises in the child’s experience it affects every other charged link. As one subsides, others flare up.

One way of understanding this systemically is to conceive of the energy that is tied up with the abuse experience as being fairly constant: only the manifestations (physical, mental, emotional and relational) change. It is a multi-dimensional experiential crisis and all of the child’s emotional intelligence and problem-solving capacity will be trying to process this avalanche of conflicting feelings at once. Adults are well advised not to enter this cyclonic-reactive process unless they have the skills, patience and wisdom to deal with all of the implications of abuse to (and within) the child’s experience. And again, resolution of the layers of trauma needs professional skills (and the detachment that the professional relationship can maintain).

Since many cases of the sexual seduction and abuse of children (and seduction is abuse in itself) involve adults who genuinely believe that they are motivated by love for the child – and that the child loves them in ways that a young person could never really feel – this ‘special relationship’ can be found in a very high percentage of ongoing childhood sexual abuse involvements. It does not matter how often the abuser ‘checks out’ his/her fantasy of ‘specialness’ with her/his victim-lover: the fantasy of a child who has a very special ability to feel adult love and understand the complexities of sexual relationship is always solely the creation of the abuser. In the heat of an abuser’s passion (for it is often that), the abuser has a vested interest in reading in imagined meaning in the child’s every gesture or word – meaning which seems, to the abuser, to both justify and validate the relationship that s/he is imposing on the child.

DIFFICULTIES FOR ABUSERS IN OBTAINING HELP

Abusers – or men/women who, in good faith, become concerned that they might harbor such feelings for a child – have no easy path to get guidance from professionals! Mandatory reporting laws require therapists (as well as teachers, doctors, clergy, etc.) to report any case of even the suspected sexual abuse of children to the police. And while there are further judgements to be made regarding perceived risks to the child, etc., very few mandatory reporters believe themselves competent to make such decisions. If they cannot, are the police going to tend to fare any better? Thus, conscientious therapists will often guide their clients away from revealing such things in a way that would require reporting – at a direct cost, of course, to compassionate and efficacious therapeutic treatment!

Additionally, the treatment programs for offenders – whether ordered by the courts or voluntary – are heavily biased against the offender having a truly accepting environment in which to explore his concerns or discuss his behavior – except in language that constantly admits guilt and wrongdoing. Why is this a problem in therapy? Because underneath the terrible choices that lead to child abuse, the deeper emotional needs and creative life of the potential abuser are obviously already expressing in pathological ways. These real-person feelings need some forum for positive airing (at least) if they are to be reoriented toward healthier outlets and goals. There is no way in the context of an abuse program to celebrate an abuser’s ‘creativity’ or other love of life itself, and to carefully separate this from his/her abusive behavior. So nearly universal is this stance of requiring constant apology in programs, that only therapists who are able to understand the pro-life genesis of any sex-love expression will be able to ensure that this need is met in treatment of offenders. And regardless of the model orientation of the therapist, any perception that the professional is affirming the abuse is grounds for malpractice and deregistration in most areas.

While most of the seduction and sexual abuse of children is perpetrated by men, in recent decades, professionals in the area of child sexual abuse have begun to see a steady rise in the number of females who abuse children sexually. As well, it is believed that many instances of sexual abuse from women go unnoticed because of the naturally greater physical intimacy which exists (and is permitted) between women and children. Everything that has been directed toward men in the foregoing, of course applies equally to women who abuse – including the responsibility for women to make an informal space to help each other explore any inappropriate personal feelings toward children.

There is nothing positive to be said about the seduction and physical-sexual abuse of children. However, as with most crimes against persons, there are many more individuals who fantasize about such things without committing actual offenses than there are physical abusers. And among those who do commit sexual abuse, many believe that they are acting out of ‘love.’ There are two pieces of this complex issue that can genuinely benefit those abusers who may believe they are sharing ‘love’ with the children they violate – and would certainly help those who feel confused about their own feeling toward children, but still hold restraining moral responsibility that prevents acting on this impulse. Two very important facts that can not only provide some protection for children, but also aid parents in dealing with such romanticized connections between someone who is a friend of the family and their children.

TO INDIVIDUALS WHO FEEL CONCERN THAT THEY MAY BECOME (OR WANT TO BE) ABUSERS, WHO HAVE NOT YET COMMITTED ANY ACT OF ABUSE:

1) NO CHILD CAN UNDERSTAND AN ADULT’S SEXUAL EXPERIENCE.
No child really ‘falls in love’ with an adult who draws the child into a sexual relationship. There may be deep and mutual love, there may be trust and there may be pleasure in other things that the child shares with you. But the child simply cannot love in the way that adults do. So… men (and women)… if you believe that this kind of mature, mutual love is developing between you and any child: IT IS NOT! If you have any caring for the child, STOP! Stop all connection with the child and stop drawing her/him into intimacy. Because if you feel that urge, then everything that you do or say to the child will include an element of seduction. Every smile, every touch, every gift, every ant of praise or including the child in adult life. EVERYTHING! And no one can self-regulate in this environment. In pursuit of what it desires, the human mind calculates possible advantage in every nuance of shared experience – far beyond any individual’s ability to see ‘the all’ of self-in-desire.

No one who wants sexual contact with another human being will be unaware of the effects of his/her every gesture, word or shared words – nor will s/he be aware of everything that exerts seductive power. It is all seductive – and naturally and powerfully so. Any adult’s power over any child is absolutely enormous and is even greater when the adult is an accepted ‘friend’ (or relative) of the child’s family. Society is based upon every adult knowing this and serving as a consciously protective force that shelters every child. (And if all people sheltered every child, then we would not abuse anyone else’s child either).

If you are ‘unclear’ as to what you are feeling, GET HELP NOW! But you need to be aware of this caveat: Because of the extreme bias against offenders that exists in the therapeutic community plus the lack of freedom of professional therapists to help you deal with your issues without reporting you to the police, you may not be safe walking into a therapist’s office and saying you are ‘worried’ about possibly sharing inappropriate feelings with a child. To be clear, within an ongoing therapeutic relationship there may well be ‘room’ for such a concern to be voiced without triggering a knee-jerk response from the therapist to report suspicious behavior. But if an unfamiliar individual walks in off the street to speak to a therapist, s/he is entering a very dangerous area!

Given these realities, it would be good for our communities and families if men/women who are worried about their sexual feelings could talk to other men/women in a group environment, anonymously. In this area, our collective resource is lagging far behind our social need and our awakening to the extent of this issue. Let alone in the development of praxis: tools and techniques for furthering self-awareness without pigeon-holing and condemnation. People who are members of strong peer groups can often discover a first tier resource. In a trusted peer group, one’s concerns about ‘what I might want to do’ can often be tested within the safety of receptive and concerned peers who will listen.

The positive and lasting results of peer-counseling processes has never been fully assessed or trusted. Still, in all areas of society, it is peer groups who are known to exert regulating pressure on individual behaviors – in both positive and negative ways, of course. In co-counseling situations, where there may be a genuine need to seek professional involvement, peer groups which co-counsel each other have proven very sensitive to knowing when they are drawn out of their depth and must connect with outside expertise. The next step is to develop outside expertise which can be trusted and which is effective in such pre-abuse situations.

2) A SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH A CHILD IMPOSES A LIFELONG SENTENCE OF SUFFERING UPON THAT CHILD.

IF YOU CARE about the child with whom you are becoming intimate (i.e., abusive) then you must realize this: There is no way that you can impose a sexual relationship upon any child that will not profoundly affect him/her throughout the child’s entire lifetime – and none of these possible effects are positive.

That is… if you destroy a child’s sexual innocence (by leading them into experience which they are unable to comprehend or integrate) then you are quite likely damaging that child’s ability to have successful intimate relationships for the rest of her/his life. This is not something any child can choose – because they do not know what is happening! They cannot understand the ‘heat’ of your sexual need nor whatever ways you seek to indulge it at their expense. And your pleasure only and always comes at the direct expense of the child.

This is the logic that underlies current socio-legal thinking that defines ‘inappropriate sexual conduct with a minor’ as RAPE. On the level of the child’s emotional reality: any sexual intrusion of adult needs and lusts is rape. Believe it!

And that is enough. If you keep these two points lasered into your mind if you ever imagine having a ‘special relationship’ with any child you really care for, you will keep her/him safe and you will protect yourself from waking up one day to the terrible realization of what you have done to an innocent child – and one you believed that you loved, at that!

The sexual seduction of a child is absolutely the worst kind of seduction of all. And no matter what you might feel as a man/woman – whether you are gentle, kind, endearing, generous, etc. – if you do this, you are harming the most vulnerable beings in our society.

It will be a great breakthrough in our human evolution when Man steps up to face his collective responsibility to keep all children safe from every man who, for whatever reasons, does not understand that the protective guardianship of all our children’s innocence is required of us all.

JAI DAEMION, M.Ed. (couns.), M.Sc. (inter-disciplinary).

©2014-2017 Syncresis. May be freely distributed for any non-commercial purpose, with appropriate credits and without edits. Quoting sections intact is welcome.


Inside Male Sexuality – Part I. Man Surrenders to Woman

13/06/2010

Jai Daemion © 2010 Syncresis

PART ONE: MAN SURRENDERS TO WOMAN

Man enters Woman. Sex. Listen to this: this is about what men can feel. If you are a man, feel through this and find if it rings your bell, expresses your experience in some way. If you are a woman, try to resist mentally adding the ‘woman’s perspective’ as you read this. Not many men discover this simple reality – and very few of them could tell you about it. OK we’re done with that. Lets enter into sex.

The male penis is connected inside the man’s body by a ligament. It is not free-standing (or whatever) even though it seems pretty wobbly. The wobble is to allow powerful movement and soft repositioning. When a man becomes erect, the very most sensitive part of his body moves outward from being cradled by his scrotum, balls, and any belly softness. The erection changes the penis from a passive outflow mechanism that urinates, into a single-minded extension of the male’s deepest sensitivity and feeling.

When a man enters a woman’s body, he is making an offering. He is moving in trust to allow this extremely delicate glans (and shaft) to enter another human being’s body. The penis is going to be completely stripped of all its defenses or self-protection as it enters the vagina. No amount of macho can cover this up: the erect penis is an extension of man’s most vulnerable self.

This is an act of profound surrender for the man: he is, literally, consigning himself into ‘The Great Unknown’ – and there is nothing certain about what will happen. Feelings may amaze him and can be so intense that they are frightening. It is a massive amount of feeling – sensation, emotion, meaning, hope, excitement, magic. No wonder it can be frightening, with all of these dimensions of the man’s experience firing off into infinity at once.

So some men cry as they are flooded with the incredible feeling of relief that connection into Woman brings. Woman: your body is Home to all human beings and man returns to this Home through having sex with you. His penis reaching upwards toward your womb. Your breath and heart Home to his chest and his head, as he rests upon your heart before and after sex (and in his dreams, evermore). Your connection of emotion, consciousness and your physical body (which reflects your feeling exactly, of course), do not just ‘represent’ or ‘symbolize’ something like Mother, or the start of Life, or the only place and moment of real Peace that many men ever experience. You are Home – and we are at home in you, more than anywhere else in our lives.

Do you get it? Men usually do. Every man knows that when his buddies have a chance to fall into the infinity of sex, or develop a deep love connection with a woman, they will step away from their peers and give this primal relationship its primal importance. There are jokes and taunts, of course, because we have to find something that makes sense out of this surprising move away from what all male cliques imagine is their male-first, male-bonded reality. There has to be some way of interfacing with a need and intention that leaves even one’s most beloved friends in the dust. So men make some reference to ‘pussy’ and little else. Knowing winks, jokes, arm punches and some admitted sighs of recognition complete this male initiation ritual.

And now we are touching on the only problem with getting into the realm of male sensitivity. We are here unfolding a penis and watching it become erect and, somehow, trusting enough to offer it into an unknown realm, to make an offering into the woman’s body and feelings – and all that lies beyond our usual, egoic selves. The experience of entering a woman with all of the surrender that it requires is an act of profound commitment. And if you want to press me or your lover to find out if it is ‘really frightening,’ you can do that. But you need to be aware that men often do not feel the fear of penetration, commitment, consignment, offering – even though Fear always hovers somewhere very close to our most overwhelmingly meaningful and beautiful experiences.

Those that do feel the presence of Fear as they offer into Woman may have very complex and powerful defenses in place that will make them unable to speak of the magic of the entire process, let alone any possible fear. Why? Because to speak of this incredible vulnerability would make a connection in the man’s experience of all the dimensions of feeling that are potentially flooding through him. Emotional feelings, vulnerability, physical feelings, pleasure that can be boundless and overwhelming, romantic feeling, spiritual feeling and raging desire. It all happens at once!

Considering how most men express (not how they experience) orgasm, you will see the fear in an instant! Muscles opposing each other instead of breaking free into movement and celebration. Sounds that not only sound muffled or strained, but actually are being held back by ‘Mr. Cool.’ Breath that is drawn in almost instantly when orgasm demands that the man let go of all breath-control and forces a long exhale. Or several exhales (into openness, surrender, Woman), each one dropping lower and lower into a complete collapse of all conscious control.

Then there is that time after orgasm, after all that effort and excitement has exploded into a final thrust of Man-ness into infinite Woman. This is when his body (and her body) is most open. This is the time for deep bonding and the re-integration of mind-body-emotion-spirit, together as two beings, as one being dissolved into a puddle of protoplasm and relief, with a naturally rising joyful love of life. At those moments when conception is to be the outcome of sex, this is the time that the woman-body begins to respond to Man, feeling, assessing, stroking and selecting a few sperms and allowing only these to progress toward her egg, as it too moves toward the very center of the universe.

Any man who has been programmed to believe (through the programs of fear) that he must ‘control’ his orgasm will now be desperate to control the after-moment. This is what the cigarettes are for. They cancel out emotional vulnerability and openness and allow us to get everything under control once again. Did you ever wonder why Native Americans used tobacco smoke in rituals aimed at bringing peace to different peoples? Could it be because tobacco closes off the vulnerability of belly-openness and re-centers us in our heads? Now we’ve smoked, now we are ‘chill.’ [in 2010 this means, ‘non-emotional’ – which in this decade is ‘good.’]

So what happens when is a man comes without the self-suppression ritual that literally fights the body’s desire to explode? Well, a man may whimper, he may suddenly find his way to also blurt out, “Oh God… Oh God” – or, to be really cool, “Fuck yeah! Fuck yeah!” But even these expressions are culturally programmed interventions against feeling too much. If he is truly free to surrender in to sex and Woman, at that moment of climax, his body will go onto auto-pilot. It will explode all of its energy at once and your man will be roaring like a bull and planting his seed as far into your body as he can possibly thrust it. At the very same time – while his control defenses are being ripped apart at the speed of light – his entire psycho-neuro-emotional-physical-spiritual being will be experiencing the zap! of total and instantaneous reintegration.

From the time Conscious Man’s physical orgasm begins (spiritual orgasm began with the consecration into Woman), it builds over an incredibly infinite and timeless experience of maybe a minute or two, while he lets go into spontaneous movement and absolute joy. How strong is your guy? You (and he) will find out the very instant that he stops ‘acting cool’ with his orgasm and just lets it blast out of him. Good fucking, the way Nature intended it to be.

Soft male orgasms also result from total surrender and allow both partners to remain aligned and conscious of each other’s whole-being experience. If both kinds of orgastic release can come from the same commitment, consecration and surrender, then what creates these different psycho-physical expressions?

The range of possible sexual experience is the range of human potential for experience… and consciousness. Anything is possible, everything occurs, and all that we can choose is to let go and lose ourselves in total surrender. Some people can do this – some men and some women. Many simply do not (yet) want to ‘lose control.’ Many men and as many women. Those who believe that ‘staying in control of your power’ is (still) the most important thing in achieving what we lightly call, ‘sexual satisfaction,’ will obviously not resonate with these words. For those men and women who recognize surrender as a desirable sexual direction, please know that everyone pulls back in response to fears that are so delicately interwoven with our consciousness that we respond to them long before they enter our awareness.

Through a night of loving connection – or through a lifetime of partnership – Fear arises many times and ex-presses (pushes outward) in many subtle ways. As gentle invitation brings these fears to the front of our awareness, we help each other release these anti-life, anti-sexual programs… sometimes over and over again. For every fear that is thus shared and released, a wave of bonded trust follows. When our physical connection is absolute – mouth to mouth, nipple to nipple, heart to heart, belly to belly – each moment of sharing the release of fear brings ever deeper breath and union.

Moving through fear and the little ‘turn-offs’ that come from fear’s programs moves us toward total mutual surrender – and so, total union. But since everyone holds fears somewhere inside – known and unknown fears that are most stimulated to come alive through surrendering into breath and love and sex – intimacy is not about how ‘totally free’ you can feel in your offering to your lover. Intimacy that integrates mind-body-emotion-spirit is generated from how you process your fears and your partner’s fears. It is this trusting self-revelation and compassionate companionship that allows sexual partners to be deep lovers… and good friends. This is the path-way to ever deepening levels of surrender. If we discover spiritual sexual union beyond knowing the ‘right’ things to say, it will likely come this way. Because in complete surrender, in to our selves and in to each other, we are dis-solved into oneness. And from this limitless opening, new consciousness rushes in and everything is changed, inside and out.

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END PART ONE

© 2010 Syncresis. This material may be reproduced all or in part for non-commercial purposes, in its original form, with author and this blog referenced.


Created in His Image? The Spiritual Quest for True Gender Equality

15/05/2010

Jai Daemion © 2010 Syncresis

THE PATRIARCHAL RELIGIONS OF FEAR

Looking for true gender equality in any cultural manifestation is often very difficult. Looking for gender equality in any of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity and Islam) can be a very depressing experience. For Woman simply is not there. If you want to really feel the actual life-effect of six thousand years of the denial and repression of Woman, you need look no further than the exclusively patriarchal hierarchies formed by these institutions.

Float like a satellite above these woman-fearing cultures and imagine being a woman with no power, no voice, no recognition, no official presence in the religion-based culture of your birth – and that state of alienation as an expression of thousands of years of systematic oppression and violence. It is a shocking view of irrational denial by obviously frightened – no, by absolutely terrified – men. Men, banded together and hiding behind great beards and big hats, each holding within their hearts a secret so terrible that they could not even reveal it even to other men. All acting out the prescribed duties and rituals of their faith with such monumental hypocrisy that it defies comprehension. Then… and now.

What was (what is) their terrible secret? Simply this: in their God-fearing hearts each man knows the power of Woman. Every man knows – however deeply this knowledge is denied – that Woman is the very center of all incarnate (embodied) life. As a primordial manifestation of the very essence of creation and evolution, if anything is holy, it is Woman.

And yet, from the first stories of creation (in The Book of Genesis), Judeo-Christian culture sets itself on a path of the denial, repression, oppression and carefully programmed cultural ignorance of the natural power of the feminine. In the temples, the mosques and the churches, men bustle about with self-important expressions on their faces. But in his heart, each man knows where lies the very center of his life, his family, his heart and, most threatening of all… his soul.

Why is this so threatening? Why is Woman so threatening to the Culture of Man that she must be so oppressed? Here is a hint: it is not because she is unworthy, unimportant or lacks spiritual authority. No, of course not. If Woman was as inferior as our traditions have continuously maintained, there would be no need to oppress her, hold her captive or to try to kill her spirit. We do not waste time persecuting rocks. We do not hate sparrows. The only things that evoke our hate and violence are those which terrify us. And for untold thousands of years, the forces of men have been ganging up to hold the terrible threat of Woman away – away from acknowledgment and acceptance, away from social power, away from positions of religious authority and away from the powers of education and money. Away from men’s trust, away from men’s surrender. “Out of sight, out of mind” – or so fundamentalist Islam hopes. “In their proper place” – or so fundamentalist Christianity prays. And the motivation is the same, and it is simply Fear. No other explanation fits the historical facts.

So why are women so traditionally feared by men? Is it truly because they are ‘unworthy’ and hence hold no spiritual power? No, it is because they are so powerful that every man is somewhere afraid in the face of this enormity. That’s all it is. Six thousand (or more) years of horrific subjugation and violence, because Woman is so powerful – so powerful that Man is terrified.

Woman begins us all, protects us in her belly, births us, saves our lives a thousand ways, offers a total commitment to our lives and releases us into the world. Not all human beings have experienced this total love and commitment of course. But this potential is the archetype of Mother and individual human beings participate in this archetype at different levels of being and awareness.

Man provides but a single spark of sperm (which is an absolute bare minimum of effective physical form). Ideally, man protects and nurtures his unborn children (and their mothers). Man provides an interface between his family and the world-at-large – enfolding, protecting, providing, serving. Man attracts his children into a world beyond the Mother-Child bond and (with the mother) guides their development in myriad ways. Individual men participate in this archetypal function more or less. But Man knows that in the primal manifestation of Life in embodied, human form, Woman is primary. Woman is the source of all human life. If there is a ‘first sex,’ it would be Woman.

In the face of this awareness, in a sometimes pitiful attempt to ‘save face,’ men have gathered together for untold thousands of years and pretended with each other that other things matter more. Men make a ritual of holding secret the wonder, awe and inspiration that flow to and through them from Woman. It is acknowledged in signs and gestures. It is admitted usually only when directly asked. But whenever it is stated, the statement is absolute: every man knows. Wherever such awe and wonder exists, human psyches are very malleable. And in this state of openness, men are guided, invited, directed, urged (and, let’s face it, manipulated) by their desire to merge into oneness with Woman.

Man has wasted thousands of years pretending that Woman is inferior when, in fact, She is the primal power of all physical manifestation in the universe-of-universes. Thus we have the foolishness of the Christian trinity of Father, Son and Holy Ghost – the whaaat? Are we so afraid of including Woman’s spiritual presence that we obliterate her and replace her with an apparition? Yes, obviously we are. God help us if we realized a holy trinity of mother, father and ourselves as the children of that union.

Men! Unite! Put on your funny hats and pray to God that God-the-Father is the only holy force. And when you go home at night and surrender your last breath of the day in to Woman, with such relief and gratitude, we will just agree that this shall be our little secret. I won’t tell if you don’t tell. In the morning we will again dress in our regalia and finery and the hierarchy of Man shall be re-created and we can walk freely away from the absolute magnificence of Woman – as indeed we do, every morning-after – and we shall rule and we shall be the Kings once again. At least, we shall be the rulers until we are deposed in battle – or until we go home and meet the deeper calling that awaits us there, be we men or women.

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BUILDING GILDED CASTLES IN THE SAND

These principles are based in our history and reflected in the empty shells of the major world religions and the cultures-of-denial that they have spawned (and which they will fight and kill to maintain). But why speak of these things here? What does this have to do with your lifelong spiritual quest? At least this:

If you follow the teachings of any religious/spiritual tradition and find there a basic and constant denial of Woman, then how complete can the overall system of belief actually be? What point is there in ‘believing in’ anything that is absolutely committed to including only half of humankind, only half of human experience, half of embodied consciousness, only half of the spiritual presence in the cosmos? Why buy into a programmed system of belief that is committed to creating God in the image of Man and so betrays the very most primal, experiential truth known to every human being – of the absolute equality or primacy of Woman?

Our culture is coming awake to this massive and deeply ingrained inequality between men and women. In what may be later seen as grossly clumsy and reactive stabs at ‘correcting gender inequality’ we pump out rhetoric and demand organizational changes. Women act out what they think is competitive within the ‘male-dominated culture.’ Men meekly assume the position of ‘discovering their feminine side’ that they hope will evoke acceptance from women. How much this exchange of attitudes occurs in American culture can only be seen from somewhere far away from this massively coercive cultural vortex. In any case, we now feel pride as we collectively exhort and threaten and cajole and compromise with the traditional, patriarchal establishment to ‘allow’ women to participate – at all levels of society. This has been going on for well over a century and yes, we have become a little closer to androgynous equality, but perhaps at the expense of knowing Man and knowing Woman. For so long as Woman has been denied, neither gender has been free to find its essence and to realize its respective consciousness.

In your spiritual quest, what we seem unable to admit as a culture, you may have to admit to yourself: these traditional ‘faiths’ cannot be corrected or adjusted to admit Woman and all that she is. We can enlarge our contexts to accept women as ministers or priests. But the religions themselves are based so squarely in patriarchal ignorance that ultimately, the religions cannot be salvaged.

It is time to begin again. Somewhere beyond religion. It is time to take the ‘God of Wrath’ off of his throne and in to our Hearts, to nurse him at woman-breast and let him breathe in her power and her love. It is time to recycle god into a new awareness. No more thrones, no more Basilicas, no more Cistine Chapels. And no more Holy Inquisitions. Just Open-Heart Surrender that allows spirit to be at home in your consciousness. A direct one-to-one relationship.

This is beyond belief! Beliefs are programmed values that you have been told to try your best to accept as real. You are told to ignore any contradictions that you see in the program, ‘as a matter of faith.’ Belief is powerful, but knowing is absolute. Knowing occurs when something is real with in your experience. And there is no doubting what you know to be true for you. No doubt means that no faith is required to build understanding and expand your consciousness.

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WELL THANK GOD FOR BUDDHISM!

Since the Abrahamic, monotheistic (one-God) religions are hopelessly mired in pseudo-masculinist auhoritarianism; it is perhaps understandable why so many millions are turning to the ancient religions of Asia with fresh hope. So we might say, ‘Thank God for Buddhism!’ at such a time of cultural religious crisis. But alas, there is no god in Buddhism, so those who declare Buddhism as their religion have already lost the plot. Buddhism is a god-less philosophy. It is a Way, a model, a path and a paradigm.

It would be nice – and convenient – if you could escape the anti-woman bias of Christianity (and maybe, especially, Islam) by ‘becoming a Buddhist.’ Unfortunately, this is a fanciful dream: the original Buddha,  Gautama (or Shakamyuni), refused to teach women when he was traveling around seeking converts to his personal system of belief. This denial of women was as common to the Buddha’s cultural context as were the similar denials in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic traditions. Ordinary, perhaps predictable, but not necessarily easily excusable. These are foundational beliefs that affect everything that is built upon them.

Buddhahood is a state of consciousness, and does not refer to a specific individual. So there have been many Buddhas throughout time. One of the most important Buddhas was Amitabha Buddha, whose vision described ‘The Land of Ultimate Bliss’ – which gave rise to Pure Land sect of Buddhism in the 1st and 2nd century c.e. (approximately 500 years after Gautama Buddha). Amitabha is revered throughout Asia and is known for his ’48 Vows,’ which serve as a model that millions of people hope to follow.

This is Amitabha’s 35th vow: “If, when I attain Buddhahood, women in the immeasurable and inconceivable Buddha-lands of the ten directions who, having heard my Name, rejoice in faith, awaken aspiration for Enlightenment and wish to renounce womanhood, should after death be reborn again as women, may I not attain perfect Enlightenment.” Read this again. Can you see the deeply implanted rejection of woman as inferior? This is not a casual ‘misspeak’ of a mass media newsperson or a politician: this is a carefully considered revelation of a basic, foundational, belief. And it has been repeated and revered for almost 2000 years! Now, maybe it is time for something completely different!

Not only do we allow such blind ignorance to continue, today millions of followers rationalize the ancient anti-woman bias as a ‘thing of the times’ and so struggle to remain students of these traditional teachers. But you cannot say, “Oh, well that’s just about women, the rest of his teaching must be very wise.” You cannot say such a thing because you are woman – whether male or female in your body – and you carry the potential to experience direct relationship to woman in every XX and every XY chromosome of every cell of your body. And with every outbreath. And in the stillness of every night. And in so many other ways….

There is no need to make excuses for any teacher, for any religion, for any spiritual tradition or any form of cultural madness. No excuses are needed and none are possible. And so there comes a time when you simply have to walk away from what your experience knows is untrue. When you discover that perhaps all that you have ever known is untrue, this is a very scary thing to do. Fear often produces panic and blaring inner questions.

What if there are no real guides to light my way? What if no tradition includes ‘The All and Everything’ of my experience, or my consciousness, or the consciousness that abides beyond-the-beyond?

Yes, what if…?

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BUT THERE IS ALWAYS YOGA… ISN’T THERE?

The ancient wisdom of the Vedas –which is known as Vendanta – serves as the foundation for all the yogas of India. As each new generation of humans discovers the promise of yoga, a common hope is awakened: “Surely I will be able to find wholeness in this sacred and ancient wisdom.” Well, you may find traces of true gender equality in the yogas, often enough to silence your suspicions for awhile so that you can surrender to the ‘masters’ and become a true chela (a disciple, a student). Indian religion is monotheistic (based on a single God), but it also has thousands of lesser Gods that are worshipped in different (and often spectacular) ways in the world’s greatest variety of temples, sects and beliefs. Some of these gods are female deities, and many of the great teachers (or gurus) of the yogic traditions are women. “Maybe here there is a place to turn where I can expect true gender equality….” And maybe not.

In the Vedantic yogas, the ‘highest’ form of spiritual practice is that of the celibate – the celibate male. By taking the vows of Brahmacharya, a student consigns all of his sexual energy to the nourishment of his higher consciousness. Especially lately, women can also become Brahmacharya under the guidance of their gurus. Traditionally, in the realm of the male, celibacy was intended to hold him away from temptation (sound familiar yet?) while delivering him from evil (or now?). For the dedicated yogi, emotion is the experiential equivalent of the Christian Satan. It traps the unwary in the realm of desire and creates karma that will require many extra lifetimes to ‘work through.’

Some male yogis get married and have families. These men are called, ‘householders.’ Although they are believed to be compromised in their spiritual attainment by their association with women and sexuality, they are accepted as being ‘the best that they can be’ for this lifetime. Usually without too much disdain, the true Bhramacharya students and the gurus accept the householders as sincere devotees. However, even today gurus advise their householder students to have sex no more than once a month. Why? Because women are fearsome things and if you give in to what is assumed to be woman’s insatiable sexual desire, it is taught that she will suck you dry of your vital essence (your ojas) and you will wither, become ill and suffer a premature death. On top of that (as if this was not enough ignorance to trigger your red flag), you will be cautioned against feeling too much pleasure. Because pleasure breeds desire, desire breeds attachment and attachment breeds untold thousands of extra lives before you can sit at the Godhead.

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TANTRA – THE FEAST OF SPIRITUAL SEX

There are many yogas, all focusing on slightly different pathways (practices) to enlightenment. One branch of yoga is based upon sex – or, more precisely, on the interaction of the cosmic polarity of yin and yang. It is called Tantra and its teachings are found in sacred texts known as the Tantra-Shastra. The ultimate practice in yoga tantra is the ritual experience of Divine Sexual Union. A man with a woman. A man who seeks the direct transmutation and the experience of oneness with and through Woman. As this occurs, each individual moves beyond the polarities of gender and may experience ‘The All and Everything,’ Infinity, Cosmic Union, enlightenment.

This form of yoga has always been regarded as dangerous. Only a few students are believed to be able to survive the dangers of the limitless sexual attraction and the powerful transmutation of energies and consciousness that result – from successfully or unsuccessfully experiencing the ritual practices. In ancient times, only men received instruction in Tantra. Women were not allowed to follow this path.  When it was time for a sexual ritual, the guru would select a partner for the male student. Perhaps his wife, perhaps a prostitute. The self of the female partner did not matter. What mattered was how much she could channel pure yin (feminine) spiritual energy.

The males were admonished not to allow themselves to ejaculate and learned sometimes very elaborate ways of redirecting their sexual energy to return the energy of their ejaculate back into their own bodies. Because… if the males experienced an orgasm and flooded their energies into the woman, she would drain them of their ojas (vital fluid) and they would suffer for it.

What has too often been overlooked through thousands of years of tantric practice is that sex is an exchange of energies. From well before (and long after) the male ejaculates, if he is sensitive to it, pure yin energy floods into him from the woman. Mutual surrender and shared orgasm more than replenishes whatever vital energy the man spurts into the woman with ejaculation.  In fact, of course, such a mutually empowering exchange increases the likelihood of true dissolution of self into the one-ness that is the goal of Tantra.

So why was ejaculation denied? Because it is a moment of complete surrender in to woman. And pleasure. And so desire. And so attachment. And so more egoic karma… etc. Yet western students of tantric yoga still hold back, rationalizing this basic, dogmatic woman-fear in whatever way they must to ‘keep the faith’ in their teacher and the yogic tradition that they (believe) they are following.

Moving forward into Western culture in the seventies, as yoga students (female and male) brought new ideas of gender equality and women’s liberation to their teachers, the gurus were all being pressed to ‘teach us Tantra!’ Many of these teachers were, themselves, lifelong celibates and had to ask their female students what ‘happened’ during sex. Often this lack of experience did not stop them from instructing followers in some form of Tantra. In the face of the likely lack of direct experience, the practices that were taught were often confined to exploring the natural yin-yang polarity of breathing, yoga asanas (postures) and meditations aimed at moving ‘beyond’ sexual duality – beyond male and female.

A decade later (in the 1980’s) tantra was being defined for eager workshoppers as ‘all about relationship’ – and many of the principles of female assertiveness and the new cultural attention to women’s sexual needs that had arisen in the women’s movement generally, were suddenly being plugged in as a new kind of tantra.

A decade later (in the 90’s) the word ‘Tantra’ would lose its meaning altogether. After all, if even the ancient texts of the Tantra-Shastra and all the practices that have been taught through thousands of years are based in the same woman-fearing paranoia that was running rampant through Judeo-Christian and, later, Islamic culture, then what good is the total package? One might as well be a Christian fundamentalist as a Tantric fundamentalist.

Wherever the feminine is denied, oppressed, violenced or ignored, whatever is left can never be whole, can never achieve the tantric goal of transmutational oneness, can never satisfy the needs of humanity for the absolute acceptance of the natural equality of woman and man. Equality at least. If only true equality.

You may need to go one step further, as many now realize, and feel that any religion, any practice, any religious institution, any Temple, Church or Mosque that discriminates against Woman, must now be dissolved, dismantled, deconstructed. It is no longer a question of if we can use these traditional, patriarchal institutions, it is coming to be a question of whether we can allow them to denigrate even one more generation of our beloved daughters – and to limit and de-nature our sons that they might maintain the false, patriarchal authority upon which all such institutions and beliefs are built.

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IF WE DON’T KNOW WOMAN, WHAT IS MAN?

While you consider this and how all of this may affect your own spiritual quest, here is another thing to be aware of. There has been an upheaval of cultures over (especially) the past forty years, aimed at findings ways to include women in the all of human experience, culture and Life. Of course many of these thrusts have led to valuable reframing of individual and cultural positions. But consider this: a culture which has evolved through the constant denial of the gifts, the importance and the consciousness of woman, will develop a warped relationship with women, of course. But it will also have created a warped configuration of Man.

As our present culture strives to include women, all too often this has taken the form of women acting out maleness as they have been conditioned to perceive it throughout their lives – basically in order to feel competitive/competent in what they perceive as a male-dominated culture. This is an unfortunate necessity – especially because the ‘maleness’ that our culture knows is so deeply based in defensive, anti-woman gender oppression and maintained by fear and violence. This has impacted our cultural (and individual) Man as much as it has our collective understanding of Woman.

While our broader society has made progress in dissolving some of the barriers to true equality, the least change has occurred exactly where change is needed the most: in the very heart of the unyielding patriarchy, in the hierarchies of religion. The world’s ‘faiths’ tend to be monolithic structures dedicated to holding power over their masses of followers. Life-and-death control, political power, wealth and property.

We can ordain women and make little steps to include them in the all-male religious traditions. But where the edifices of religions are founded in woman-fear, the hypocritical oppression of women and the systematic denial of the long histories of women in relation to god and spirit, whatever towers are built cannot stand for long. So long as they do, we will not be able to fully experience the natural redefinition of woman and man, of what it means to be female and what it means to be male, within the context of our hopefully evolving cultures and our (hopefully evolving) consciousness. It is the very ‘moral’ foundations of our cultures that perpetuate patriarchal oppression and denial of Woman. We have built up the castles of our triumphal faiths on blind ignorance and it is this programmed belief that holds us away from realizing true gender equality.

What is the nature of liberated Woman? And what is the nature of Man? Perhaps all that we can know is that when these archetypes can manifest within us, then we will be ready to begin the tantric ritual of mutual transmutation.

Tantra is based not in ‘acting out’ gender roles, but in surrendering in to the natural consciousness and powers that are inherent in each gender (and each other- and inter-gender as well, of course). No attribute of either (or any) gender can be pre-defined: essence is a revelation of direct experience. What we can know is that whatever emerges will be different than anything that we have yet imagined. For when we open to total surrender, ‘We are all virgins to our every next experience.’

This work is well begun. The youngest of our living generations in some of the world’s cultures are approaching each other with open equality. With pure hearts but often lacking the understanding that a mutually respectful cultural tradition might have imparted. So in some ways they still struggle with uncertainty. Nevertheless, the movement toward wholeness and true equality is continually unfolding through our collective consciousness.

Once it gains only a little more in its momentum, then the artificial edifices of towers, castles and cathedrals will no longer be needed. Sure, we could rebuild them to reflect the new wholeness (holiness?) that we may discover… but it is more likely that we will see no further need for such symbols of grandeur and power.

Are you personally ready for such an adventure, undertaken with open awareness and surrender to the guidance of your own experience? And if you are, may we gently ask…

When will you begin?

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© 2010 Syncresis. This material may be reproduced all or in part for non-commercial purposes, in its original form, with author and this blog referenced.