Who is this man?

Men (and women) who wake from the slumber of humanity, progress to a spiritual consciousness of all that is good. They traverse the hero's journey, deal with the dross of their character and personality, formulate a mission to serve their fellow travelers in this realm, and dedicate their lives to spiritual progress. They leave behind the baggage of hate, discontent, judgment, resentment, addiction, anger, depression, and fear. They lessen the hold of ego. They infuse their souls and their lives with love, acceptance, integrity, humility, positive values, and the spiritual virtues. They come to know who they are and why they are here. They awaken!

Monday, November 21, 2011

I'm Workin' Here!

I am reminded of that oft-quoted line from Midnight Cowboy, when Ratso Rizzo, after a close encounter with an automobile, states defiantly, “Hey!  I'm walking here!  I'm walking here!”  I wonder if I am just walking here or working here.

 We often find the awakening man “working here”, rather than just walking through his life.  The Work is personal, spiritual, and it brings deep meaning to his life and to others.  The awakening man is a work in progress.  He does soul-work in his life toward progress, not perfection.  If there is any perfection to be experienced, it lies in those moments of deep communion with what he would term a Higher Power, something or someone beyond him, perhaps a god, or God.

The awakening man is also a work in process: the process of living his life fully.  He holds an evolving vision of his better self and a mission to create a better world.  He seeks process[1] in retreats, self-improvement programs, therapy, the hero's journey, spiritual organizations, yoga classes, vision quest, listening, and going deep within to heal his wounds and become renewed.  His processes reach the core of his psyche and spirit.

I found some Work this past week, after I lashed out at my wife in anger and judgment.  She is my soul-friend, my anam cara, whom I love so much.  In spite of this, I chopped her down, shot her through with arrows of ego, anger, judgment, and self-righteousness.  From where did those poison arrows come?  We have been open in working through our differences, vulnerable in our sharing[2], and we work very well in the chores and necessities of our life together.  We are closer in these later years than we have been in 25 years together[3].

In such dark times, the awakening man does not cover over his actions, hide his feelings, isolate, or deny his imperfections.  Instead, he peers deeply into the dark shadows[4] of his soul and confronts raging demons within.  Thus, I took some time to sit with my feelings for a while, an hour here or there, thinking and writing.  I often do my work by journaling my nightmares and day-mares.  And soon, revelation comes.  [5]

When I was six years old, I spent six weeks in a hospital.  I left with six traumas; I am aware of four.  Suffering from rheumatic fever and pneumonia, I recall clearly one night I was coughing and vomiting mucus and blood, surrounded by attending doctors and nurses.  Even at that young age, I realized I was in the process of dying, and I felt abject terror and aloneness.

Fifty-nine years later, this week, when Pam endured her bronchial coughing jags and started spitting up blood and sputum, the horrors in my past resurfaced.  I was consumed by fear of her worsening condition, anger at her illness, judgment of her ability to take care of herself, and feelings of betrayal, just as I felt betrayed by my body and those who cared for me as I lay dying in the hospital bed.  After tongue lashing her, I retreated and washed myself in guilt, shame, aloneness, and despondence.  I felt as if life itself had drained out of me.

The good news is that Pam and I were able to do our work together and talk through how our reactions over the past few days emanated from our individual traumatic experiences.  We are aware that we are dealing with these shadows and that our connection may be reactive these days, instead of being consistent and loving.  That awareness helps!

Some people believe we can banish our shadows forever through our Work.  However, I agree with others who say they will always exist in the dark recesses of our minds, albeit lessened as we do the Work.  This week was a difficult week, but I remain open to process, progress, and, hopefully, awakening.  

What is your awakening like?  How do you define progress?  What is the role of process in your life?  It is embodied in these questions today?

- Pete

[1] Other examples of process, in this context, are bioenergetics, visualization, and sacred rites.
[2] We often use a communication technique called Imago – imaging.  Refer to the book, Getting the Love You Want, by Harville Hendricks.
[3]  Pam and I met in October 1987.  We married in January 1990.
[4] Refer to the writings of Carl Jung concerning shadow.
[5] Picture: Gao Xingjian's silhouette and his shadow, Marseille, 2003. (Photo courtesy of Alain Melka/Jean-Louis Darmyn and Triangle Méditerranée.)

1 comment:

  1. For me, progress is LEARNING. And the process can include writing, drawing, conversation with others, creating, exercise, etc.

    And I have to remember to breathe. :-)