UNIVERSAL 12 STEPS SITE LAUNCH

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Folks who have been following my blog for a while may remember the Universal 12 Step series I was writing, while visitors may have come across it after I made it a permanent fixture at the top of the page.  After kinda shelving it for a while, and with the urging of a Sister in the Priesthood, I have decided to work to put  the Universal 12 Steps out into the world as a stand-alone work with their own site.  But not only will they be available written, but they will also be accompanied by a video/audio recording of me reading the article for those who would rather not read.  This is going to be a new venture I am going to be trying out with my new work.  Yes,. we’re doing talkies now!  The videos have their own YouTube channel as well.  I have the Intro and the Preparation for Step 1 complete, and be on the look in the upcoming days and weeks for revised and audio versions of the other steps, including steps 11 and 12, which I never published here.  Tell a friend 🙂

MARCH OF “DIVERSITY”

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“Make no mistake about it: we intend to keep bashing the dead white males, and the live ones, and the females too, until the social construct known as ‘the white race’ is destroyed—not ‘deconstructed’ but destroyed.”

  • Jewish American Professor Noel Ignatiev

UNIVERSAL STEPS 8 AND 9

Darkest before dawn

Step 8: Made a list of all persons we had wronged and became willing to make amends to them all.

Living life in the world it is pretty much a certainty that at some point we will hurt someone. Whether it’s mentally, emotionally or even physically; whether we were intentionally malicious or carelessly inconsiderate; it is inevitable that we will hurt one another. This is the sad reality of what the Buddha referred to as “Samsara”– the material world of pain and suffering. With the exception of the moments of actual physical pain we experience, the majority of the pain we feel is caused by our attachments and our beliefs. Likewise, much of the pain we cause others is when we offend the attachments and beliefs of others.

However, while we cannot “make” anyone feel a particular emotion and there are typically “wrongs” on both sides of any conflict, we would do well to take responsibility for our actions in any sort of disagreement or conflict that ends up in hurt feelings or alienation. Did we act or did we react? Did we act virtuous and honorable? Or did we act petty and disrespectful? It is our responsibility to have control over our actions. That responsibility is ours and ours alone.

Of course, we also need to be honest about those wrongs we may have done that were not necessarily based in “conflict”. Are there times where we may have defrauded another for our own selfish gain? Are there times where we have violated the trust that someone put in us? Are there times when we blatantly mistreated or even outright abused another- times where we deliberately violated free will of another living being? If so, these are things we need to bring to Light if true spiritual alchemy is our goal.

Working through the 4th Step, we came face to face with the mental, emotional and possibly even physical harm that others had caused us. Likewise, we fully acknowledged our roles in creating the negative situations and conditions we experience. From this step, we dug up names and situations from our past and brought ourselves face to face with their impact on our psyche. Through this, we brought healing into our being. Now it is time we fully acknowledge our roles in the hurt and perhaps even bring some healing to others.

With the aid of our 4th and perhaps even our 1st steps, we should have a pretty good idea of who we owe an apology. Now we need to be willing to do the right thing- we need to have that will to “man (woman) up” and apologize for f***in’ up. We need “Will” to do this. Not the lower case “w” will of our lower mind, but the big “W” Will that comes from aligning ourselves with our Higher Power. We can pray for our Higher Power’s guidance if we believe ourselves “unable” to apologize. Almost certainly we will find it is not that we were unable, it is that we were unwilling- our Higher Power’s guidance can help us through this, but we have to be ready to do some hard work. We need to be truly willing to go up to those we have wronged, look them in the eye, and apologize for our actions. The Blue Book states:

“A remorseful mumbling that we are sorry won’t fit the bill at all… So we clean house… asking each morning in meditation that our Creator show us the way of patience, tolerance, kindliness and love.”

This takes us to Step 9:

Step 9: Made direct amends to such people wherever possible except when to do so would injure them or others.

making_up_after_a_fightIt has been said that the three most difficult words in the English language for one to speak are “I was wrong.” Sometimes we can be so convinced that our actions in a given situation were harmless or even justified that we are oblivious to even the remote possibility of wrongdoing on our part. We can come up with all sorts of justifiers as to how what we did harmed no one or that we were entitled to act the way we did. We may believe that the particular wrong someone has done to us so far outweighs anything that we could have possibly done to them that they “should” be the ones apologizing to us. We wait for THEM to come to us so WE can get on with our lives. This is a great way to hold onto a resentment until you die.

I had a bit of resentment towards my father that came to a head in my twenties. My mother and father had married young and split when I was two. My mother told me that it was because he was either working all the time or out with his friends, so she filed for divorce. She later told me that he told her not to come to him when I became a “hard-to-handle teenager”.

I would go to visit my father on Sundays when I was younger, but oftentimes he would be working and I would spend most of the time with my stepmother, my sister and my grandparents. He owned his own logging and trucking business in Maine, and loved what he did, but he was most definitely a workaholic. On top of that, he was not one for expressing emotion. This appeared to be more evident as I grew older.

I moved with my mother in Rhode Island, who gone into the Navy shortly after they divorced, when I was thirteen (before that time I was living with her parents). After that my relationship with my father grew more and more distant. I would see him at Christmas and Thanksgiving and get a card with money in it for my birthday, and he came to my graduation, but that was it. He never called me, so I never called him.

However there was a point when my father loaned me money for a security deposit on my first apartment. I soon forgot about this, and shirked any responsibility of paying this debt, as this was around the time I was doing a lot of drugs, partying, etc. I moved back to Maine briefly for a time after I got evicted from that apartment and started to work on mending the estranged relationship with my father as well as my sister. Things appeared to be going in a positive direction, but a few months later I moved back to Rhode Island to basically pick up where I left off.

I went back to Maine for my cousin’s graduation, where my father was also attending. I vividly remember the awkward feeling I got when I approached him and went to shake his hand only to have him walk by as if he didn’t know me. To this day I do not know exactly what that was about, as I have never asked him, even though I have my theories. I was a bit of a mess for the few months I went back and it being a small town, word might have gotten out that I was a bit of a drunk. Or he might have just been pissed that it was over a year since he gave me a loan and I hadn’t made any attempts to address it. I don’t know.

I wrote him a letter asking about what was going on, as I had not even gotten a card for my birthday that year. My stepmother was the one who wrote back, stating the card issue was a misunderstanding, but did bring up the matter of the loan. My mother was pissed as she didn’t believe he was justified to call in any debt due to her allowing him to pay so little in child support.

I would still see my father once or twice a year during holidays. He never called me. I never called him. However, I again found myself in a financial conundrum three years later after I went to college. I called to ask him if he would co-sign on a loan. He refused stating that I was “25 years old and didn’t own a vehicle” and that I just needed to “work harder”. I was pissed. I had worked to get into college (which he never did) on my own. That semester I had made dean’s list, worked as an RA at my dorm, and worked part-time on the weekends when he didn’t have classes. But I wasn’t going to beg him for money and just left it at that. I had planned to talk to him face to face about how I felt he was not treating me like a son and had never been much of a father to me. However, it was at that time his father, my grandfather, passed away.

Nearly ten years had passed after all of this when I made my amends with my father. He had been going through a separation with my stepmother when I visited him at his house. It was the first time I had gotten to sit with just him and I and talk for a long, long time. I talked with him in a way I never had before. I opened up to him and apologized for acting the way I did during that time and being irresponsible. I also expressed remorse for allowing my relationship with him, as well as my siblings to become so distant. He expressed understanding and forgiveness to me. However he did not apologize for any wrongs he may have committed according to my perception. But that’s not what this is about.

The healing from this step comes from OUR action, not from the actions of another. This step is us truly about empowerment and healing through alignment with the Higher Will. Making amends with my father was like a breath of fresh air into my being. Since that time, my conversations with my father have become more open, a he too is changing through the trials that have happened in his life. While my outreach is still not always the best, our relationship has indeed healed.Building-on-Relationships

When people have near-death-experiences, they typically learn to value two things above all: knowledge, particularly wisdom knowledge of things of a Higher Vibration, and relationships with others. Our relationships, the bonds we make in life are so essential as they allow us to grow in our ability to express, feel and understand love and compassion. It is also through reaching out to others that enables us to be of service and participate in the Great Work. This is something I am stubbornly learning, but learning nonetheless.

Before I conclude, we should address the qualifier “except when to do so would injure them or others” Everyone who you meet serves as a potential catalyst for your spiritual growth and development, and the same is true for those you have met, as you can help to facilitate that in them. Sometimes this is growth through loving and joyful experiences, but sometimes this is growth that happens through pain and trauma. To bring it back to a personal level, there are people in my life whom I have lost touch with for one reason or another, and I know it is better for everyone that it stays that way.

The most obvious example would be old lovers, where feelings of unhealthy attachment/obsession or betrayal may have played a role in facilitating or ending the relationship. Perhaps they were so hurt by our actions, that it took time and distance from us to heal the wounds that we helped create; perhaps attempting to reach out to them in a desperate attempt to heal ourselves, would only cause those wounds to be reopened. This could potentially have a destructive impact not only on them, but also on their current relationships and even their family. The same can be said in those instances where an unhealthy obsession or attachment exists between two people. Perhaps we had a friend or lover that enabled us to act in self-destructive ways. If we know that reaching out to that person would cause us or them to fall back into that cycle, that connection is probably best left in the past.

In any case, we need to be mindful about our interactions with those we have wronged, and be certain that while we are ultimately doing this for our own healing first and foremost, that we aren’t doing it in a manner that is selfish and inconsiderate. Sometimes this line can be a little blurry, at which point we should ask for guidance from our Higher Power as well as reach out to members of our support group, whomever that may be. If we find there are amends that need to be made, but a face-to-face meeting (which is the most optimal as it allows real sincerity and connection to be established) or even making a phone call or mailing a letter is not a good idea or possibility, there are other options.

One option is the “un-mailed letter. Here we can write out our apology and even read it out loud, imagining the person we wish to make amends to is in the room with us. After the process is complete, we can them burn the letter in a mindful and ritualistic manner. We can also do a similar thing without the letter, simply imagining the person there and giving amends to the person that way.

Another option I have done is doing amends in a state of deep, focused meditation, using visualization techniques. You visualize the scenario in which you are meeting with the person you need to make amends with, and you speak and most importantly FEEL the raw emotion and healing of the amends.

However you do it, the most important thing is that you FEEL it with the totality of your being- it needs to be as REAL and SINCERE as possible, otherwise your just writing and burning letters or talking to people that aren’t there. Likewise, you should only do this where amends TRULY aren’t possible or are really not a good idea. We shouldn’t hide behind burned letters or imaginary conversations if there’s an opportunity for a HEALTHY face-to-face conversation. Yes, that can be scary and it can leave us incredibly vulnerable, and it may not go in an ideal fashion. But if we are truly connected to our Source for guidance in our decisions and our communications with others, what needs to be said will be said, and what needs to happen will be what happens.

The amends process is not something that can be done in a few days or even weeks. It can take years, but if we want to heal and grow as human beings and become what we can be, we will do it. As the Blue Book states:

“If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are half way through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feeling of uselessness and self-pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook on life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us- sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them.”

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Those who have ears to hear should hear. Namaste and God Bless.

UNIVERSAL STEP 7

Step 7: Humbly asked God/the Active Force of Creation to remove our shortcomings.

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After recognizing our character defects as things that are not “just who we are”, and we accept that and become willing to step into a new way of being and doing, we now find ourselves ready to perform the Inner Alchemy that is Step 7.  This takes humility. Humility is often confused with humiliation. The Green Book states the following:

“ Many of us have confused humility with humiliation. We were more familiar with pleading for, or demanding what we wanted than with asking.  In fact it takes humility to truly ask for help. It means admitting that we are not wholly strong and self-sufficient.  It means that we are not too proud or ashamed to believe that we can be helped.”

humility2Pride is something I had a big issue with.  That was where my program would struggle. Particularly when it came to reaching out to others for help; making phone calls when I was feeling up against it.  But in doing this, I was limiting the capacities in which God could actually help me. The Green Book illustrates:

“One of the main ways God works in our lives is through other people… They can give us encouragement when we lack confidence.  They can help us see shortcomings that we have been unable to recognize on our own… Simply telling others about our defects can help reduce their power over us.  And just having someone listen to us in our struggles is often the very help we need.”

Step 7 is an act of faith and an act of Grace; which is defined as the infinite love, mercy, favor and goodwill shown to humankind by the Creator.  I had no issues with believing and coming to know a Higher Power and I had spent so many years practicing deep self-reflection that I didn’t have a problem digging into the wrongs I had done and the character defects and fears that were at the root of them.  However, I had developed such a self-loathing on such a deep level that I didn’t believe I deserved God’s assistance, even if He could give it to me.  My thought was “Why would God help me?”

This is of course, a very subtle and deceptive form of egotism.  The notion that I DESERVE to suffer is just as self-centered as the idea that I deserve to have whatever I want.  While this self-loathing is definitely still there, I have learned how to work with it and neutralize it in more effective ways than before. I do this through Prayer and Surrender.

11265958336_b1e0232bcc_bI completed my Seventh Step on the night before my Ordination into the Priesthood.  I got down on me knees in front of my Teacher’s altar and recited the following Seventh Step Prayer from the Blue Book:

“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character, which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows.  Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen.”

When I said that prayer, I was NOT magically “cured” of my character defects.  There is nothing in this step or any other that says we will be magically turned into a perfect person.  It is progress, not perfection we are looking for.  We are simply shining a light into ourselves and learning to let go of the lower mind’s stranglehold on our reality, bit by bit.

My character defects present themselves every day of my life thus far, and every day I need to make a conscious effort to recognize, resolve and surrender them, or they will take root and the work of digging them up becomes a bit more of a pain-in-the-ass.  I try to consciously say a version of the Seventh Step Prayer every day after I partake of Communion:

“My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad; dark and light.  I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character that stands in the way of my service to you and my fellow beings.  I surrender these things unto the (Holy) Spirit. May they be transmuted and my body filled with the Light (of Christ).  Grant me strength and courage as I go from here to do thy will. Amen.”

While saying this prayer, I feel and envision the process of surrender of these “negative” energies in an upward motion, where they are taken into a vortex and reconstituted.  From this vortex descends a golden Light that fills my body that is now ready to receive it, having been purged of energetic patters that were blocking it before.  My body is filled with this Light, and I peacefully sit for a moment, glowing, having faith that indeed this inner alchemy has taken place.  Alchemically I could liken this Seventh Step to reaching up to the Seventh Heaven, or to the Seventh Chakra which is the gateway to the Divine.

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Later that day, I very well may find myself acting upon my character defects again and the process continues.  But for that moment of reaching out in humility; for every little moment I surrender to this process in fullness, I am one step further into realizing the Wholeness of Being in Spirit.

All things happen in God’s time, and God’s time is eternal.  We have our particular brand of character defects for a reason that is unique to the needs of our spiritual growth and development.  Our character defects can even serve as aids to the spiritual growth and development of others, either through empathy or through conflict. The Green Book sheds light on this:

“We… discover that our character defects can become useful in God’s hands.  Our struggles with our own shortcomings can help us to understand and empathize with the struggles of others and to reach out… by sharing our own experience, strength, and hope.  Aspects of ourselves that we were ashamed of and tried to keep hidden can sometimes blossom unexpectedly into gifts that enrich our recovery, when brought into the light of a loving Higher Power.  Anger may contain the seeds of courage; envy can turn to empathy; self-centered pride may grow into a healthy self-love.  Each character defect we turn over to God becomes one more way of opening ourselves to God’s care.”

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Surrender isn’t something that we can force if we are not ready.  Again, this takes time and it is imperative that we are understanding and gentle with ourselves, while still holding ourselves accountable.  Sometimes we may even have to “fake it til we make it”, but again, little by little, bit by bit, the Light inevitably comes into those dark places until we are indeed living in a new state of being.  Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.

UNIVERSAL STEP 6

Step 6: Were entirely ready to surrender our character defects and erroneous beliefs to the Active Force of Creation (Holy Spirit, God, Goddess, etc.) as we understood It.

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Having gone through the “inferno” of steps 4 and 5, we now find ourselves again to a point of surrender. By this time we have recognized the “Root of Evil” within us- the underlying causal factors of why we think, feel, and act in ways that ultimately hurt ourselves and others, keeping us in a state of perpetual bondage. Now the question is, “Am I truly ready to let these things go?”

For many of us, our character defects are the “old familiar face” we can always count on to pop in. We become comforted by them, like an old shirt that we can’t bear to throw away, even if it is in tatters. We associate with our character defects as being an inherent part of “who we are”. We identify with them, and feel they are part and parcel with what makes us “special” and “unique”- what makes us “who we are”. This is nothing more than an illusion created by our finite mind, or “ego”. To put it bluntly, it is a lie.

As we move through the process, we begin to recognize the lies we have told ourselves and continue to tell ourselves, and seek to move toward truth. Truth can be uncomfortable and painful at times, but it is REAL. When we are ready to let go of lies, we are ready to move into truth in a full and real way.

But in order for this process of surrender to happen in any sort of complete manner, we have to BELIEVE it is possible. These elements of our ego have become very comfortable “ruling the roost”, as it would be, and are not just going to leave without putting up a fight. This is where our relationship with our Higher Self/Power comes into the picture.

We have (hopefully) already come to the realization that the will of our finite ego is not enough to create real and lasting change within us. We need to tap into the limitless potential of our Higher Mind- the Divine Spark within and the correlating Infinite Power that surrounds us. It is only through reaching to this Power that we can be given the keys to unlock our limitless potential for growth and transformation. But in order for any of this to happen, we have to first BELIEVE it can, and I can say from personal experience that it can sound a lot easier than it is.

When we become so used to living in a state of fear, anxiety and hopelessness, it can be incredibly hard to “unlearn” that state of mind. When we let life’s disappointments and our own perceived failures get the better of us, we can fool ourselves into believing that things will “always be this way”. Even though we may believe in a Higher Power, we may not believe that even He could help us, or if He could, we really don’t deserve His help.

This is where I found myself. I knew where I was. I knew how I got there and where I wanted to go. But I didn’t believe God could get me there because I didn’t feel I deserved it. It took me a while to realize that was the mental prison I was creating for myself, and I pray each day, often multiple times throughout the day, for guidance out of that prison.

“It is the Father’s good pleasure to give us the Kingdom.”

We are all Divine Children of the Living God. We all deserve the Kingdom of Heaven that dwells within us, which we can in turn, make manifest in the world around us. When we believe this is possible and believe we are worth it, the freedom we ultimately seek can become reality. Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.

ROOT OF EVIL (Part 2)

“Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

– Matthew 5:38

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If we recognize evil as this thing that needs to be dealt with and that violates the fundamental principles of the Father’s creation (see Root of Evil Part 1), then why in the heck would Jesus tell us not to resist it? Let’s look at what he said in Matthew chapter 5 verse 38: “Ye have heard it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth”.

This quotation, going back to the laws of ancient Assyria, a very warlike nation, implies revenge and committing what is seen as justified violence. Much of what is seen as “justice” is actually little more than revenge through a third party. In this case, Jesus likens us going blow for blow with what we see as “evil”, attempting to get some sort of vengeance upon it for whatever wrongs it has done to us.

Jesus then goes on to say “But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil..”.

To resist something implies a combative stance; to go against something head to head: force-to-force. This can create the conundrum of the unstoppable force against the immovable object, which results in nothing getting anywhere.

100_0608For years I attempted to do battle with what I saw as evil within me. I tried to outsmart it, I wrestled with it, I fought it, and in the end, I was just kicking the crap out of myself. This would just cause me to feel worse, which would in turn just feed my addiction, and the cycle would perpetuate itself. I realized it was an impossible thing to fight, because it was not a “thing” at all. By trying to battle and hurt “it”, I was really just battling and hurting myself.

I found peace when I would stop trying to fight it, and I would simply surrender to God, walk in another direction, and create another path. In my experience, I have found this process is not necessarily a “one-and-done” deal, and can require repeated bringing in and letting go. This required me to recognize the source of the hurt and self-loathing that came from being stuck in past events, some of which were very repressed and recessed.

When we attempt to forcefully do battle with ourselves, it inevitably creates more suffering. After we recognize what it is, we need to understand it. We need to understand what it wants and what it wants to express. These things within us that cause so much suffering are usually the psyche’s attempt to deal with past trauma. Once again, this principle can be applied to both the individual psyche, and the collective psyche of the human species. Trauma causes separation of the psyche.

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At its very worse, intense or prolonged trauma can create such a detachment that it can give rise to a complete lack of empathy known as psychopathy. As recent studies have found, psychopaths seem to inherently rise to the top of government and corporations. This is because the power structure that governs this planet is psychopathic in its very nature, as it serves its own interests through manipulation and is completely detached from concern for the true well being of the human population and the planet as a whole. This attitude of selfish detachment has trickled down to the consciousness of the masses through the corporate/government controlled media and society as a whole, causing immense damage.

American PsychoHumans have allowed themselves to become separated from the Earth and her children, from each other, and from their own inner being. We have held onto the individual and collective traumas of the past, while continuing to allow ourselves to be traumatized by the world around us. It is time to let all of this go. Trauma is an inevitable part of this three-dimensional existence, and it is our ability to recognize and move through that trauma and express it in a non-harmful way that pushes us through the next threshold of spiritual evolution. Once we have consciously done this, we will no longer feel compelled to re-create the situation of trauma within ourselves or project it onto others.

When we refuse to acknowledge the “ugly” parts of ourselves and cast them away in judgment, like any neglected or abused child, they will inevitably lash out at us in some way. That it is why it is crucial that we be compassionate with ourselves in this process. No actual part of us is “evil”. Evil is a state of being: a by-product of being out-of-balance as well as the description of this principle in action. When we do the work to clean out our belief systems and habits; when we show compassion to our underlying wounds; then we can effectively move out of the way and allow the healing to take place within us and through us. We can then take those same principles of compassion and loving-kindness and facilitate the healing work to our brothers and sisters in the “external” world.

There is so much emphasis on fighting evil in this world. Whether it’s the government-sponsored “war on terror” farce, or grassroots attempts to fight the evil corporations and/or the evil government: it’s all about fighting back against something. Mother Theresa once said that she refused to go to an anti-war rally, but if there were a rally for peace, she would be there. Rudolph Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy and the Waldorf Schools, once said that the best way to fight evil is to create something good. This is why nonviolent civil disobedience and non-compliance is so effective. It also could explain why violent revolutions almost always result in a worse power structure being put in place than the one that was revolted against.

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If we want to do something about the evils in the world, all we need to do is “opt-out”. If you don’t want to support big corporate retailers, opt-out and shop at small businesses or just don’t buy their products. If you don’t want to support the big financial institutions, opt-out bank with a community bank, or take charge of your own money. If you don’t want to support the big pharma-healthcare system, opt-out and find a naturopath, or take charge of your own health in some way. If you don’t want to support the federal government using your income tax to primarily fund the war machine and international financial institutions, there are ways to opt out of that too. I, myself, am not quite brave enough to try that last one, but there are people that have done so successfully. The point is we don’t need to participate in aggressive combat to change things in ourselves and in the world, and it would be better off if we didn’t.

At the end of Matthew 5:39, Jesus states: “but whosoever smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.”

This much-misunderstood statement is not telling us to be complete pacifists and not defend ourselves against physical or psychic attack. In the case of use of aggressive force, there is the inherent “right” that exists in Nature for a being to defend themselves from aggression. However, it should be the apt amount of force to neutralize an attack. This is principle is reflected in martial arts where we seek only to use enough force to stop an attacker. We don’t seek to intentionally maim or brutalize or annihilate. When this intention arises in us, we are no longer “defending ourselves” and have become what we have sought to stop. This principle is another one that applies on multiple levels (individuals, communities, nations, etc.).

This reference to “turning the other cheek” has to do with not taking things personally and allowing resentment to poison our hearts. As stated in previous postings (see Universal Step 4), resentment is a toxic emotion that can lead us to being complicit in all kinds of immoralities and “evils” due to us feeling justified. Even when a person or group is attacking every element of our being (physically, mentally, emotionally spiritually) and saying they are doing so because they hate who we are and want to wipe us off the face of the Earth, in truth they are doing so because they are sick and suffering from their own inner “disease”. They too are suffering from the cancerous poison of resentment.

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We do our best to feel empathy for those who hate and resent to such a degree and understand the type of internal decay that creates. We know that the attack on us isn’t really about us, it is about the disease that is acting through this person that wishes us harm. We know that when one seeks to maliciously harm others, they are doing infinitely more harm to themselves. We pray that the Light fills them and that they discover the fullness of life through being in this Light completely, rather than hiding from it and trying in vain to “snuff it out”.

Many wonder why the loving creator of the universe would allow the principle of evil to exist on any level. I think the Dalai Lama summed up the purpose of external evil wonderfully in this quote:

“ ..in order to practice patience and tolerance, we need an enemy.. Otherwise we’ll have no opportunity to practice (patience and tolerance). Whether the enemy has a good or a bad motivation, as far as we are concerned, the situation will be beneficial, for his harming us provides an opportunity for us to increase patience and inner strength… Nevertheless, when it comes to taking action, if someone is behaving unreasonably and harmfully towards other beings and he or she is doing so continually, then ultimately he or she will suffer. If you understand the situation clearly, then respectfully and without scorn you can take necessary counteraction. In such situations we should take action to stop other people behaving unreasonably, because unless we do so, things will just get worse. We are not only allowed to take such counteraction, but indeed we should, the difference being that we do so not out of anger but with an altruistic intention.”

We are physically manifested in the world of hyper-duality to experience and understand it and grow stronger from it. It’s the principle of using resistance to add strength. The heavier the weight used, the stronger the muscle becomes. The weight of the evils of the world met with the principles of compassion and loving-kindness results in spiritual strength. The purpose of evil is to foster spiritual growth and healing. A wise man once told me, “the greater the darkness, the greater the light”. If we take an objective look at the people and events of the world around us using this principle, it is plain to see that as the Light is growing more and more intense, the shadows become clearer and more magnified.

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In the ultimate reality of the Creator, evil does not exist. Evil is a byproduct of duality and the manifestation of the One into denser and denser forms of reality. The denser the reality, the more “real” something appears to become. If reality is like a computer program, as many scientists are now speculating, then the principle of evil could be likened somewhat to a virus: a virus with a purpose- an agent of the Fire (see Into the Fire: the Alchemy of Purification and Transformation posting). Whether we realize it or not, we have access to the software that has the power to neutralize this virus at any time. That software is the healing Light of the Christos.

And while I am not going to claim that beings that perpetrate “evil” (human or otherwise) are aware that they are actually working towards the evolution of humanity and consciousness through their attempts to destroy it, in the end what is more important: the intentions and actions of those who would do us harm, or our reactions and responses to them? When we use lies and oppression as opportunity, countering with truth and compassion, we become active participants in our individual and collective spiritual (remember ALL is Spirit) growth and evolution. This is the true meaning of “perception creating reality”; not picking and choosing what we want to pretend is or isn’t “real”.

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So while we bring ourselves further into a state of unity consciousness and continued healing, let us not forget that Jesus instructed us to love our neighbor as ourselves: if our fellow humanity suffers, then on some level, so do we. We should take to heart the words of the bodhisattva, Ksitigarbha:

“If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? … if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi.”

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So let us first truly see and recognize the evils objectively for what they are: suffering that is caused by attempting to separate parts of ourselves from the totality of our being and from the principles of Light, Life and Love. Let us then do the work needed to live in accordance with Self and the Laws of Creation, and allow that healing to take place. Then let us not be tricked into creating more strife and suffering, but rather let us forge a new path of truth, compassion and Light in whatever way Self calls us to do. It is at that point when we can reach our hand down to our brothers and sisters and help them to raise themselves up Jacob’s Ladder.Warrior

There is something happening now, and we are at a critical point in which it is up to each of us to do what we can as we are called, putting fear and apathy aside. Regardless of our past or whatever emotional scars we may have, it is imperative that we recognize and come to terms with them, so we can see the gifts that lie hidden beneath the pain and illusions of separation. Let us then take these gifts of spirit and give them up so that we may act as wounded healers in service for the liberation of our brothers and sisters, all the Earth’s children, and the Earth herself.

UNIVERSAL STEP 5

STEP 5: Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

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In Step 4, we inventoried our fears, resentments, and character defects (and hopefully assets as well), now it’s time to use the power of the Word to bring in healing to ourselves. As a brief review of what we are talking about, I will cite the Green Book:

“Admitting our wrongs means admitting all the ways in which we were dishonest, unfair, abusive, inconsiderate, unjust, or unethical. Our wrongs include all of the ways we (cheated) to get ahead or to avoid consequences we didn’t want to face. They may also include actions we neglected to take, as well as ones we took.”

We wrote down these things in Step 4, now it is time that we reflect upon them and admit to ourselves without justification, “Yeah, I did that, and while I am not proud, I understand what motivated me and I am ready to move on from that way of thinking and being.”

We recognize and accept that these were/are ways of acting out sync with the Laws of Nature and Creation (see previous postings for detailed explanation of this concept) as we on some level did harm to others and ourselves. When we admit this to God/Self and to ourselves through contemplation, meditation and prayer, we can begin to heal ourselves and forgive ourselves- we can be “redeemed”. A wonderful short prayer or mantra we can say to ourselves to bring about self-forgiveness is “Thank you. I’m sorry. I love you. Forgive me.”

Now that we have undergone the difficult process of being honest with ourselves, now it is time that we are honest with another person. This is the point where I once again make the case that the Steps are not just for “addicts”, even though it was originally developed for them. All but the most exceptional among us have secrets (and I dare say they too might have a few things they don’t air in public). All of us have a few instances from our past that we are ashamed to admit in full- specifically those instances in which we know we have acted in a less than honorable manner. These are things that have the potential to erode our view of ourselves as well as our ability to be truly close with others out of fear that they might see “who we really are”.

This is for all intents and purposes a confession. The Sacrament of Confession itself is a very old thing that unfortunately has been given a lot of dusty associations rooted in shame and regret, and the idea of “sin”. However Father Paul Blighton clears this up very succinctly:

“Sin is merely a name for the incorrect use of the great creative law of God. This law is the nature of man’s own being and function. Right use of this law brings happiness, peace, fulfillment, and realization. Wrong use of the law breeds pain, suffering, and confusion.”

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In truth, the confession is an act of humility that allows us to be free of our self-righteousness, self-importance and the bondage that goes along with it. However it is important to go into this with not only a desire to cleanse ourselves of the shame and resentment of the past, but the sincere desire to change the course of our future. If we are merely blurting something out of guilt, with no desire to change the ways of thinking and doing that led to us behaving in that way in the first place, then a confession is merely a superficial way of making ourselves “feel better” so we can continue about “business as usual”.

With this understanding, we find an appropriate individual to share the exact nature of our wrongs. I did my 5th Step with my sponsor, as is typical in 12 Step Programs. However in the case of those working outside of 12 Step, it could be with a close friend also walking the spiritual path of healing, a therapist, spiritual adviser, or another wise confidant (a mentor, etc.). Find someone you trust, who you know will understand, yet be unaffected by what you share. This step should NOT be taken with partners, parents or family members. We need a safe space where hurt feelings, accusations, and the possible desire to defend our actions and our person will not become a barrier to healing.

When the appropriate individual is found and gives their consent to listen to your 5th Step, we find a place where we can talk in a safe and private manner. We bring our 4th Step inventory and review it, as well as elaborate upon it. At that point, to again quote the Green Book, “We admit our wrongs in a detailed and thorough way. We describe what we did, when we did it, and what we were thinking when we did it. We describe what the consequences were for ourselves and for others. Many of us tell the story of each wrong rather than simply listing them. In the process we reexamine situations in which we may have seen ourselves as the victim or minimized our wrongful actions.”

Many of us expect to be judged harshly or rejected by someone we tell our darkest secrets and most shameful behaviors to. However, when we tell finally someone these things and we get loving acceptance in return, we begin to heal from these ghosts of the past. We in turn begin the process of loving acceptance towards ourselves in a more complete manner.

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The person you share this information with may even have insights to share that you may not have realized in your own reflection. One that I particularly remember was that I was looking for others to fill a void that I had within myself. I was looking towards others to give me the love that I did not have towards myself. I was expecting them to be able to complete me and give me identity, when these things are only something that a true relationship with God and Self can bring us. And when these people inevitably failed to meet my expectations in some way or other, I resented them, often deeply.

We must do our best to be completely and fully honest, and not “edit” or skim over details to protect ourselves. Healing will only be as complete as our honesty. Now perhaps we may have forgotten or unconsciously omitted something. Perhaps we are not ready to share everything right then and there. That’s okay. This is not something that needs to be done all in one shot. The process of rigorous honesty, especially with ourselves and our intentions is an ongoing one. The important thing is to do our best to be as honest as we can, and be honest that we are doing our best. Over time we learn to hold ourselves accountable without persecuting ourselves.

After the 5th Step process is completed to the best of our abilities, we would do wise to meditate and reflect. Let the sense of healing and gratitude fill you, and give thanks. Now we can work bit by bit on being fully honest with others and ourselves. We can begin to live the examined life of fullness and meaning. Until next time, Namaste and God Bless.

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ROOT OF EVIL (part 1)

“Jesus pulled out the root of the whole place while others did it only partially. As for us, let each one dig down after the root of evil that is within us and pluck it out of our heart from the root. It will be uprooted if we recognize it. But if we are ignorant of it, it takes root in us and produces fruit in our heart. It masters us. We are its slaves. It takes us captive to make us do what we do not want; and what we do want we do not do. It is powerful because we have not recognized it.”

– Gospel of Philip: “Root of Evil”

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Some might say that “evil” only exists in the individual perceptions of humans, and what is seen as evil is only a construct of belief and preference; i.e., “what is evil to you, may not be evil to me”. Some people think being gay is “evil”. Some people think sex in general is “evil”. Some people talk about the “lesser of two evils”, which works itself in with the Machiavellian perspective that tends to dominate foreign and domestic politics: “the ends justify the means” for what is labeled as the “greater good”. A major marker of “evil” in society is not following the rules, i.e. “breaking the law”. But if what is illegal in one nation is legal in another, how can that actually be any sort of marker for a true universal concept of evil?

Let’s look at what Webster’s says evil is: Evil (noun and verb): Morally bad; causing harm or injury to someone; morally reprehensible, i.e. sinful, wicked- an evil impulse.

Now let’s get down to this notion of “morally bad”. It is the opinion of many nowadays, and pop-culture certainly reflects this, that morality is simply the imposing of outdated cultural and institutional belief structures on people so they would behave in a desired manner. This is true, and it is also not true. This is the sort of confusion that occurs when people attempt to super-impose ego-based beliefs on what is the Natural Law of the universe- Law with a capital “L”. Not the codes and statutes of a state; not common law; not the laws of religious doctrine; not even the law of gravity.

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We are talking about the inherent Laws that govern Creation and manifestation; things like the Law of Attraction, the Law of Karma, the Golden Rule (“do unto others”), and the Hermetic Principles (see Truth, Ignorance and the Law posting). We are talking about the governing principles of Light, Life and Love that are expressed through ultimate Truth, and that when fully realized produces sovereignty and freedom in a being and produces harmony, balance and peace in the manifested world. Natural Law is the innate set of rules that are written into the very fabric of Creation by the Creator Itself.

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So if we look at true morality and “goodness” as being what is in harmony with Light, Life, and Love, then evil, in contrast, would be something that is not in harmony with these principles. Where the Christ impulse seeks to bring balance and harmony, evil seeks imbalance and strife; it is Anti-Christ. It manifests itself as fear, resentment, ignorance, confusion, chaos and control. All these people who are looking for the Antichrist need only look at the systems, institutions and beliefs that seem to dominate our world.

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When I was ordained, it was made very clear to me that the free will of an individual was a sacred thing: a Natural Law principle that should never be violated. Yet we see violations of the free will of individuals in our world all the time, and it is often touted as a good thing, with ends justify the means for the greater good reasoning. I dare say that whether government sanctioned or not, murder, theft, abuse of power, predatory manipulation and use of aggressive force and coercion would be considered evils, as they inevitably violate the free will of the individual, which in turn violates the Laws of Nature and Creation.

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One of my biggest criticisms of the modern New Age movement is that it seems to want to pretend that evil doesn’t exist. I’m not talking about the actual New Age that is written in the stars and being born through us, but rather the New Age business brand of cult-like, airy-fairy, feel-good, ego-based fluff that’s all about manifesting new cars and channeling space aliens. If it’s seen as “negative”, they don’t want to hear about it, out of fear of “making it real”. Sadly, though, ego-driven perception does not equate to actual truth or actual reality. The unbalancing potential of evil does exist in the world, it exists within us, and it expresses itself in a variety of different ways.

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When I started on my conscious spiritual path some 13 plus years ago, I was full of ego-driven delusions of how great I was that I had found this path, that I was going to propel MY-self to the next level, and that I was going to overcome all these little defects of character that I felt were holding ME back. It was kinda all about me, really. I was cruising along, makin’ things happen, goin’ back to school, then, WHAM! I found out I had an addiction that I didn’t even know existed and it seemed to stop me dead in my tracks. It turned out the spiritual work I had been doing was only skimming the surface, and I had A LOT deeper I needed to go still. I thought I had it all figured out, but that couldn’t have been further from the truth.

For the next several years, there were times when I felt like I was literally in the pits of hell; that I had made the descent there was no coming back from. I went to places within myself I didn’t know existed. I was delusional, self-serving, self-hating, lying, and manipulative, and I wanted nothing more than to escape from the realities of this world. And regardless of who I hurt emotionally, there was always more than enough justification as to why I was right, or how the wrongdoing lay in their perception somehow. But the real hard truth was that I had been behaving in a similar manner my whole life and I hadn’t even realized it.

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I had been ignorant of the true nature of the monster in the basement of my psyche. The monster I had made through my own self-loathing. I was ignorant that most of the beliefs I had about myself and others were lies. My willful ignore-ance of my own imbalances and illusions allowed a sickness to take root and produce cancerous fruit in my heart. I was the slave of my addiction because I did not and would not see it for what it was.

The Gospel of Philip states that evil “takes us captive to make us do what we do not want; and what we do want, we do not do.”, and that “It is powerful because we have not recognized it.”

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Some Native Americans saw evil as a disease of the psyche and spirit. They called this disease, Weitiko. This disease of evil in its varying degrees fosters a self-destructive tendency in humanity that is unlike any other species on this planet. Internally, the evils within us can take hold of us and are allowed to flourish due to our oftentimes-willful ignorance of it or our refusal to believe that it exists. Or if we know it exists, we allow ourselves to be controlled by it. The exact same principle can be applied to the external world, as it is a reflection of the world within us individually and collectively.

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The mass of humanity has been hypnotized and taken captive by a powerful evil that many people refuse to acknowledge even exists. It is very old and uses the mechanisms of economic, corporate, governmental, academic, scientific, religious and social institutions to perpetuate itself. There are definitely those who could be seen as “most to blame” for this in one sense, as they consciously use and closely serve it. But this could not happen were it not for the mass of humanity who, on some level, has agreed to ignore some aspect of the evil and allow it to persist and grow.314063_10151126353311383_1805967352_n

It is the mass of humanity who has bought into evil, choosing to benefit from it in some way for the satisfaction of the ego. It is the mass of humanity who has chosen to shrug off true responsibility for the maintenance of themselves and our world, choosing to focus on childish and trivial things. It is the mass of humanity that chooses to believe in and perpetuate self-loathing and self-hatred. This has allowed the evil to manifest outwardly into what has become an increasingly concentrated form, causing unimaginable suffering in our fellow man, and all of Earth’s children.

The “evils” of this world can best be likened to the archetype of the vampire that has not surprisingly become so popularized and romanticized in the media these days. It thrives in darkness and can only enter your home if you invite it in, and once it is there, it will bleed you of everything; physically, mentally, emotionally, and psychically. This vampiric force is embodied in its most concentrated form through the elite ruling class that is in control of finance, media, government, etc. Most overtly, the “food” for these financial elites is currency and the debt slavery imposed on populations through usury (lending at interest), taxation, and other forms of fraudulent financial activity and thievery. Currency is a representation of the “current” that allows things to move and operate; i.e. economic activity. However, the vampirism goes deeper than that.goldstein3

It is no coincidence that major military contractors like Halliburton whose primary shareholders are these financial elites, have been caught running sex-trafficking rings. It is no coincidence that investigation into the pedophilia scandal that has involved many in the highest offices of the UK government has been halted due to “national security concerns. This force, through these men (and women) preys on innocence and purity, feeding off the fear and the vital life force of humanity. A form of power or energy is given off through the sexual degradation, torture, and slaughter of a person that this force will feed upon.

This is why the vampire is being made to be “cool” through the media in shows like “True Blood” and “Vampire Diaries”, and films like “Twilight”. It is to implant the archetype into our conscious mind in a way that it is seen as “sexy” to be preyed upon, as well as to prey upon others. We are then being encouraged to become “vampires” ourselves, perpetuating the cycle of psychic vampirism (feeding consciously or unconsciously on the mental and emotional energy of others) .

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But again we need to LET THEM IN first. If we do not let them into our psyche, meaning we understand their methods and do not buy into the various forms of propaganda and belief systems attempting to be sold to us, they will not be able to make the inroads needed to morally corrupt us. We do this by recognizing this “evil” and practicing discernment with what we take into ourselves. We learn how to protect ourselves from it externally and by getting in touch with our “Guiding Light”- our Inner Sun, we are protected internally. For the vampire cannot stand the Light of the Sun/Son, and will evaporate to nothingness in His presence. When we shine a light on evil, we diminish it, because when we see it for what it is and we realize it has no true power- only the power that WE give it. When we truly let our Inner Light shine, the “vampires” of this world have no power over us.

UNIVERSAL STEP 4

STEP 4: “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”

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Recently I was browsing through a newsstand at New Seasons Market when I came across the cover of “The Atlantic Magazine”– an editorial-style magazine that would be described as having a moderate (i.e. center left) political stance. What caught my eye was the cover piece entitled “The Irrationality of Alcoholics Anonymous”. I was immediately intrigued by this and took a few minutes to skim through the article, which not only attacked A.A. as having a next to nothing percent success rate, but attacked the efficacy and science behind 12-step programs in general.

Now while I have had my issues with alcohol in the past and I do regularly attend 12-step meetings, I wouldn’t label myself as an alcoholic and I have never been to an A.A. meeting. However what really struck me about this article as well as the other anti-12 step articles and books that have come out in recent years is the virulent anti-religion and anti-spirituality stance that is taken. One of the main shots taken to “prove” the ineffectiveness of ALL 12-step programs, not just A.A., is that they are considered “faith-based”, or that they have some basis in fundamentalism and mysticism.

I will tell you speaking from experience, the “faith” involved in 12-step is as varied as the people who go. There is no institutionalized religion there unless you bring one. The only real faith espoused is in some power or force greater than ourselves that can act as a helpful guide in our lives and the belief that by honestly and continually working a program of recovery specific and unique to ourselves we can remain sober and live healthy meaningful lives.

I will also attest from meeting, conversing and listening to people with many years of sobriety that the 12-step program DOES work. However, not everyone involved in 12-step works the steps earnestly and sometimes circumstances can get the better of us. I’m speaking from experience here too. Relapses happen. Failures can be cited with treatments like cognitive behavior therapy, psychiatric medication, and the many other treatments at the disposal of modern “science-based” counseling and psychiatry. At the end of the day, NO TREATMENT, aside from being locked in a cage, will prevent relapse if the addict’s heart isn’t FULLY committed to it. It also can take time and commitment to find a group that is a right fit for you.

Again, I’m speaking from experience here. The whole idea of “working the steps” is not just about habitually going to meetings or making a dogma out of the A.A. Blue Book or any other recovery literature or format; it is about naked self-honesty, reaching out to others and getting to know the Divine Source that is uniquely expressed in each and every one of us. “Working the program” is doing all of the activities and rituals that keep you physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually centered and balanced. Yes, 12-step programs are about spirituality at their core, which will inevitably cause them to be labeled as “un-credible” and “un-scientific” by the medical and scientific establishment.

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Again, what I really see driving much of the views of the author of this particular article as well as those of Lance Dodes, M.D. (author of the recently published book “The Sober Truth: Debunking the Bad Science Behind 12-Step Programs and the Rehab Industry”), and others, is this all-out war that materialist science and secular culture has waged on anything that smells like religion over the last century. One should not be fooled into thinking that “science” is somehow on the defensive at this point in history- it is THE dominant paradigm. This has caused a reactionary movement of many who have religious beliefs to try and push back in attempts to defend their beliefs, which has strengthened various forms of fundamentalism. It saddens me to see such a stark rift between science and spirituality being continually perpetuated, when both schools of thought in their TRUE forms are complimentary to one another. It was spirituality that gave birth to modern science.

Much of this “war” is fueled by an increasing resentment of fundamentalism and dogmatic religion (which is arguably justifiable in some respects) that came out of the Enlightenment era (1650s to the late 1700s) and bloomed during the Industrial Revolution (the 1800s) into the modern age. Resentment, however, is quite possibly the most toxic emotion that exists on any level- be it collective or individual. Resentment causes incredible amounts of damage to societies and individuals, acting like a slow rot, eating away at the insides. And the toxicity is cumulative; creating more poison as each seed of resentment grows to maturity.

psychic attackResentments are also a key focal point of any 4th step inventory; which is the main topic of today’s posting; and unless you’ve done the deep work of clearing them out, you probably have them, addict or not. We all have had points of our lives where we have felt “wronged”- by a family member, a friend, a significant other, an employer, a teacher. If these things are not recognized and dealt with in a healthy and productive manner, they can fester within us, causing us to hold onto old grudges and false beliefs about others and ourselves. These resentments can provide fuel to unhealthy and self-destructive habits as they try to “reconcile” themselves. The Green Book describes resentment as “one of the most stubborn obstacles to our spiritual growth. Resentment means holding on to old hurts, anger, and grudges.”

The Blue Book states that from resentment “stem all forms of spiritual disease, for we have not only been mentally and physically ill, we have been spiritually sick. When the spiritual malady is overcome, we straighten out mentally and physically.”

Typically in a fourth step we will make a list of people and specific situations that hurt us in some way, and identify exactly what they did to cause us harm- be it physically, mentally or emotionally. When I first did my 4th step I joked that it was my “Big Book of Resentments”, because I had A LOT of people I held resentment towards. Over time, we learn to let these resentments go. This is not possible however, if we do not first take them out of the dusty back closets of our minds and shine the light of day on them.
After this step of the inventory is finished, the Blue Book states:

“We realized that the people who wronged us were perhaps spiritually sick. Though we did not like their symptoms and the way these disturbed us, they, like ourselves, were sick too. We asked God to help us show them the same tolerance, pity, and patience that we would cheerfully grant a sick friend. When a person offended we said to ourselves, ‘This is a sick man (or woman). How can I be helpful to him (her)? God save me from being angry. Thy will be done.”

After we make our “Big Book of Resentments”, we then go back and look at our list and examine each incident. At this point we have to honestly ask ourselves: “What role did I play in this situation? Could I be at fault here somehow as well?”

This can be real, real hard for many of us. The last thing we want to do when we feel hurt by a situation involving others is turn the mirror back on ourselves and see that we too played a part in the drama of pain and misfortune that befell us. Now of course, we cannot necessarily take fault for trauma that may have befallen us when we were small children (I mean, I suppose you COULD if you wanted to try and go into things like past lives and karmic debt, but that water’s a little too muddy for me, and I feel it’s best to accept that it happened and move on). However, as we get into the resentments of adolescence and especially adulthood, we will discover that we’ve almost ALWAYS contributed to our troubles in some way or another.

The second part of the inventory builds on this notion that we have indeed contributed to suffering, not only in our own lives, but the lives of others. This part can be even harder than the last part because we essentially have to own up to all the bad shit we’ve done in our lives. We need to take and accept responsibility for how our actions and inactions harmed others. Now, the point of this IS NOT to beat ourselves up, convince ourselves we are a bad person, or send ourselves into a “shame spiral”. That would be counter-productive to the work we are doing here. Everyone, even the most “saintly” among us has done wrong at some point in his or her lives. Everyone has hurt someone else’s feelings, knowingly or unknowingly. This does not make us “bad people”. We are good people who sometimes don’t always do the right thing.

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I see the list and categorization of wrongs as a way of releasing internal guilt. Most of us, on some level feel bad when we hurt someone, even if part of us felt they deserved it at the time. When we own up to our part in the suffering, we humanize those on the “other side” and are better able to, as Jesus said, “love your neighbor as yourself”. And when we own up to our part in wronging those who may have done no wrong to us, we begin to release the hold that event has had on our hearts. When I finished this, I felt lighter and freer as a person.

There are many different ways to go about doing a 4th step inventory and I have attached a couple PDF versions at the end of this posting to help folks along. The common element is writing about a number of different aspects of our lives that, when put together, give us an honest picture of ourselves, including our shortcomings. When putting my 4th step together, I referred to the people and events I had written about in my first step. However you choose to go about it be sure that your 4th step is indeed a WRITTEN inventory. This helps bring the process into the physical world of manifestation and makes it a more concrete and “real” process for our minds to work with.

The Green Book describes this “moral inventory” in the following manner:

“A moral inventory can be described as a systematic examination of all the beliefs, feelings, attitudes, and actions that have shaped our lives from the earliest years. It is a careful survey of how we respond to people, circumstances, and the world around us. An inventory allows us to go over our lives methodically and objectively, reevaluating assumptions, beliefs, and feelings that we have held onto for years but perhaps never examined or questioned. In making this inventory, we take special care to identify these aspects of our character that have caused harm to ourselves and others, so as to bring them forward for healing and change in later steps… Our inventory is searching, because we try to examine ourselves as thoroughly and painstakingly as possible. It is fearless, because we don’t let our fear stop us from digging deeper. It is moral, because it concerns our values and the consequences of our actions for ourselves and others.”

After we finish reviewing our part in the conflicts of our lives, we see a pattern of “character defects” in our behavior. Character defects are “flaws in our moral nature that prevent us from aligning with God’s Will.” Some of mine include being cynical, evasive, isolating, resentful, selfish, suspicious, and being a perfectionist. It can help us to list these defects of character we see in ourselves so that we can be aware of them when they emerge, allowing us to thwart the negative impact they can have on our lives and the lives of others. Again, if we do not allow ourselves to become fully aware of these “dark” aspects of ourselves, we will never be able to reach our full potential as human beings.

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That being said, we should also give our credit for our “character assets”, so as to give us a complete picture of ourselves and to avoid unproductive self-shaming. My list includes being respectful, calm, caring of others, open-minded, altruistic, and polite. We would do well to list more assets than defects to again remind ourselves that we are not bad people, but good people who sometimes do bad things.

Lastly, I made a list of my fears, because as author Adam Elenbaas states in his book, Fishers of Men: Gospel of an Ayahuasca Vision Quest, “Without knowing how to face fear, we cannot heal. The two things are the same.”

Fear and resentment are arguably the two most potentially destructive emotions if they are not dealt with in a healthy manner. Some of my fears include fear of rejection and betrayal, fear of losing loved ones, fear of transitions, and fear of not being “good enough”. Now you may find it helpful to list other secondary emotions that drive negative behavior like envy, loneliness, shame or embarrassment. However, most of these emotions are ultimately rooted in fear.

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As a word of caution I will say that if you are going to do a 4th step; and I encourage everyone, not just addicts, to do it; please be sure to take care of yourself and be sure to have a good support network in place and UTILIZE IT. Be it a close friend or loved one, a significant other, a group of “fellow-travelers”, a counselor, your spiritual community- whatever the case may be, have SOMEONE to reach out to. DO NOT TRY AND GO THIS ALONE. This step will inevitably bring up some heavy stuff and you will need to take the utmost care of yourself mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually. As I have said in the past, if at any point during this process you discover that you indeed have some form of addictive issue, I STRONGLY advise you to get into a 12-step program and/or some form of counseling ASAP. Contrary to mainstream materialist science, addiction can include more than external chemical substances like drugs and alcohol.

I don’t say these things to deter anyone, but rather advise as someone who’s gone through this process himself. This creating of a safe space where we are taken care of and supported will better enable us to surrender to the process. The ego or “lower self” will either try and subvert this process or fight it head on; tooth and nail; so we need to be in a place where we can accept any issue as it comes up and then let it go, rather than being overwhelmed and feeling like a deer in the headlights. I envision myself surrendering unwanted fears, resentments, etc. to the Holy Spirit, having Her carry them away and in their place, my body is filled with Light, while stating out loud that this process is taking place.

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This is not a process that needs to be or should be rushed. It took me about 3 months or so to finish my 4th step. Let your intuition be your guide, but at the same time be honest and accountable with yourself as to whether you are indeed taking care of yourself or if your are just putting things off (this is where having somebody working the steps along with you really helps). So until next time, safe travels, Namaste and God Bless.

UNIVERSAL STEP ONE

“Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.”
– E.H. Chapin

STEP 1: We admitted we felt powerless over circumstances, habits, compulsions, beliefs and/or ways of thinking and acting that seemed beyond our control- that our lives somehow lacked the freedom, happiness, meaning and love we desired.

Many people who have near-death experiences talk about seeing their life play before their eyes or of being given a “life review”. Here the events of their life are replayed and they are able to see the sum total of their actions. Not only do they see their life, they feel it as well. Some even speak of feeling how their actions caused others to feel.

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Toltec Warrior Shamanism mimics this life replay for the recapitulation ceremony, where the initiate re-visits the events of their life, typically in some sort of mock-casket. The warrior focuses on how each life event feels, seeking to evoke subconscious or unconscious body memory; understanding that we experience memory in every cell of our bodies, not just our brain. The warrior remembers and works through each event of his or her life, breathing in each event, then breathing out after it is fully revisited to release it. After the recapitulation is finished, the warrior emerges renewed and freed from the chains of the past.

The first step, as well as the other eleven for that matter work in a similar fashion. Many painful events and realizations are brought up through step work. Having the courage to face these painful “shadows” is what ultimately allows us to be free of their influence over us and our lives.

Many people do not fully realize the impact that events of the past have had and continue to have on their lives. When unrecognized and unresolved events of the past and the beliefs we created as a result of them can affect every aspect of our lives: our relationship, our work, our finances, our eating habits and how we perceive the world and ourselves.

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Take the example of the child who was overweight when they were growing up. In school the child was bullied in a variety of cruel fashions. His parents were divorced. His mother was a single working mom and the child was alone most of the time. His father was distant and would make fun of the child’s appearance when he was around him. The mass media and mass-mind culture told him that men should be athletic with muscles and six-pack abs. This instilled a deep sense of self-loathing and a lack of self-love in the child.

As the child grew into an adult, they began going to the gym obsessively. They were going to “show” all those people who made fun of them. They became very lean and fit. Fitness became their life and they became a personal trainer. Eventually this person had children of their own and he was going to make damn sure that his children were never fat, so they didn’t have to go through what he did. As a parent this man was an obsessive tyrant, passing on the psychological damage they received when their intention was exactly the opposite. This is how the cycle of emotional trauma is perpetuated.

The emotional trauma from this person’s childhood caused this person to form a set of beliefs about themselves and others. It should be added that as an adult this person now accepts and perpetuates this belief system willingly, (whether they choose to believe it or not) and attempts to control others according to these beliefs.

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The first step is about taking an honest look at the events of our life and identifying the key events and relationships that impacted our lives and shaped our beliefs about ourselves and others in a negative manner, giving a sense of powerlessness over our own lives. When we identify these things, we get at the root causal factors of whatever problems we have in our lives; the things that seemed a mystery to us.

These events can range from abuse and neglect, to the death of a loved one, to abandonment issues, bullying. Even the very early childhood the procedure of circumcision has been linked to serious and lasting traumatic effects (there is a reason why the U.S. is the ONLY western country to routinely do medical circumcision and people in Europe and elsewhere think we are INSANE for doing it). Everything matters here, so talk to family if possible to get any details you may miss that could help in the process. Remember the body remembers what the conscious mind may not.

A first step typically breaks into 2 major parts- childhood, where the unpleasant and traumatic events happen to us; and adulthood, where we perpetuate the effects of those traumatic and unpleasant events onto ourselves and others. We take a brutally honest look at all of the instances in which we felt powerless in our lives. Powerless over what has happened to us and powerless over our own behavior and circumstances. True honesty is the key here.

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In a nutshell, the first step is typically a written life story that is pretty much all the bad stuff that happened to you growing up and all the bad stuff you did when you were a grown-up yourself. You recall the series of unfortunate events that led to any “wrong-doings” and their consequences. I know that writing a story about all the bad shit that’s happened in your life doesn’t sound like much fun, and it isn’t. But it is transformative. This is the beginning of the dying process that is necessary for the alchemical rebirth.

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Going into this we may very well have some idea what our “issues” are. Use these already recognized previously recognized character defects and look for them as you write your life story. Be as detailed as you need to be in order to get a full perspective on how these ways of thinking and being have negatively impacted your life.

There is no wrong way to write a first step and lengths can vary. Mine was about 40 pages handwritten and took me about 8 or 9 months to finish. Look for the cause and effect patterns in your life, and try to find the root causes for them in your life events. Do not try and sugar-coat anything. You need to be as real and raw as memory allows. Do your best to fully feel these events as you write them, and then again when you read them aloud.

This is where the others in your support group come in, as the first step is typically something that is read aloud to others. Being vulnerable among supportive individuals is amazing for the healing process. It is through having the courage to share the events and actions that bring us the most shame, embarrassment, anger, resentment and sorrow that truly begins the process of healing and rebirth.

If you are unable to find others who are brave enough to walk these steps with you, then I would urge you to seek the support of a trusted counselor or spiritual teacher, or perhaps a very close, non-judgmental friend. I strongly advise that you do not share first (or forth) steps with family members or significant others. This can cause hurt feelings and judgments that could impede your growth and progress through the steps.

That being said if you are reading this and feel that you are ready to embark on this 12-step program, do not try and go this alone. I know there may be some solo spiritual voyagers out there, but this is not that kind of work. This is hard and heavy stuff, and you will need the support of other human beings. I strongly urge you to find someone to partake in this process with you, or better yet a group of someones.

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Fellowship and support is crucial when working the 12 steps. Not only is trying to work the steps solo ineffective, depending on the level of trauma you have experienced in your life, it can be downright dangerous. And if you realize in the process that you do have some form of serious addiction or compulsive behavior, I strongly urge you to seek out an established 12-step group for that particular issue in your area.

I encourage people to accompany this step work with the Light meditation I posted a couple of weeks ago. I also strongly encourage folks to do one of the 3 exercises I laid out in my previous posting before embarking on the first step. Until next time, take care and God bless.