Sunday, 2 September 2007

Service and the Soul.....

Yesterday I went to do my voluntary work. The organisation I am doing this work for is called Landmark Education. In 2005 I completed the first of three modules of the Curriculum For Living called the 'Landmark Forum'. I did this training weekend in response to another strong inner intuition. Many years ago somebody told me about this training. I went along to one of the introductory evenings which the organisation runs but I walked out half-way through the evening. To me it seemed to be totally about marketing. What I understand now is that there was something deeply threatening to my personality which made me walk out.

Four years later I was feeling really stuck. I didn't seem to be progressing spiritually and I wasn't successful in the conventional material world. I thought that I was in hell. Then once again either a loud thought or an inner voice said in the usual authoritative tone 'do Landmark Forum'. Between now and when I had walked out of the introductory evening I hadn't given it a second thought, now suddenly I was reminded of it. The next day I called the office and asked when the next introductory evening was and was told that there was one the following Wednesday evening. I confirmed that I would be there. When I did this I felt real relief and a sense of having turned a corner.

I attended the introductory evening. This time I heard it all so differently, it wasn't marketing, it was about everything that it is possible to have in life. I immediately signed up to the first module which is called The Landmark Forum which was to be at the end of September 20005.
I did this weekend and it shifted such a lot for me.

To be on a spiritual path one has to be honest and authentic. If you are not you will be able to go so far and no further. I didn't have the happiest of childhoods (I'm sure I'm not alone) and rather than deal with everything I turned to the spiritual which in my mind was to do with enlightenment and the future. In this thinking the past was irrelevant. This suited me well because I did not want to go back into the past. However what was hidden from my view was that I was using the spiritual like a band-aid to cover up emotional hurt and pain. I was also using the path to beat myself up even more. This is why I say now that disciplining the personality with its wants and desires is a necessary part of this path, but it has to be done from a position of high self-esteem and not low like I had.

During the three long days of the Landmark Forum I took a long hard and painful look at my past. What I realised is that for each event I had made up a story about it which I took to be true. Once I saw that it was only a story I felt an incredible lightness. The energy that it was taking to keep running that story was freed. It was no longer trapped. It was now available for other things.

The Landmark Forum is not a spiritual programme but for me this is what I saw it as. I saw how me as 'human' was put together by the choices and decisions I made by events in my life. I got to see that I didn't have to hang onto these stories which were draining me of energy. I could give them up and take on something more empowering. During these three days I freed up all of the energy which was trapped in thought forms around events that had happened in my life.

I also saw why I had to do this weekend. The spiritual stuckness I had been experiencing was the result of coming to the end of all the free energy that was available to me. All the energy that wasn't stuck in a disempowering thought form. The only way I was going to progress further was to be honest. To allow into my consciousness those events and my interpretation of them to feel the pain and let it go by forgiving. Only then was more energy available to deepen and expand spiritually. It was also only at this point that I was authentically on a spiritual path. On a spiritual path there has to be complete honesty. The fact that I was ignorant and didn't realise that I was using the spiritual to cover over past emotional pain is no defence. There can be no pretence on this path, or there can but it will only be for a limited amount of time.

After doing the Forum, I went on to do the other modules in the Curriculum for Living which is the Advanced Course and the Self-Expression and Leadership programme. I then did the communication curriculum. I did all of this to ensure that there was nothing else I was hiding from myself. It is since completing all of this training that my spiritual insights and intuitions have become deeper and my sense of closeness to a Presence more real.

I want to stress that the programme is not promoted as a spiritual programme. For many of the participants, freeing up of energy which has been trapped in running stories resulted in gaining much more materially. Many got new jobs, opened new businesses, gained deeper fuller relationships. The freed energy will go to growing what the person considers to be important. For many this is more material things, for me it was deeper spirituality. For most people the Landmark programme delivers what it promises which is a life of power, freedom and self-expression. Yet I experienced much resistance during all of the modules. My personality with its thoughts did everything to stop me attending. This was particularly true for the second module - The Advanced Course. This gets to the root of the design of 'human' and my ego personality did not want to go there. Fortunately at this stage my intuitive voice 'to go' was stronger and so under huge duress I found myself attending.

It is out of gratitude to this programme and also to have the opportunity to make a difference to others that I found myself working in their central office yesterday. I threw myself into making phone-calls. Firstly to welcome those who had registered to do a seminar and to confirm that they were still OK to attend. Some calls were easy and friendly and some not so. I found it interesting to watch my own reaction to those who weren't friendly, out of nowhere there was the thought 'I've given up my afternoon to call you and I noticed the feeling of irritation' This was invaluable to me as a spiritual lesson. It showed me something that I would not have seen if I was alone reading spiritual books in my flat.

I also saw how I operate very much in a 'fix it for people mode'. I spoke with one lady who went into great detail about how she couldn't attend the seminar because she didn't like taking public transport late at night. I immediately went into 'help' mode and offered to look on the database to see whether anyone else on the seminar lived near to her. Afterwards the supervisor who was sitting next to me explained that the whole purpose of Landmark is to empower people to have breakthroughs for themselves by sorting things out for themselves. He didn't make me feel wrong but I could feel a hot flush of shame as I saw how my action had robbed her of the opportunity to have a breakthrough in that area for herself.

I also saw the irony of my action and the entry on my blog where I said that I wanted people to learn how to fish instead of being given fish. This was a full-on lesson where all the connections were made for me. This was a lesson but not to beat myself up with just to be more mindful to ensure that my actions match my words in the future. I came home feeling so grateful and happy to have seen this. Without any lessons there is no growth. I noticed while driving home that all the turbulence that was in my mind before I did the work had evaporated. In its place was love, connection and gratitude.

When I got home I suddenly became so tired. I was sitting on my sofa and before I knew I was sound asleep. This is not very like me. I ended up going to bed early.

This morning I woke up with yet more turbulence. I didn't wake until the alarm and then fell back to sleep. It is a restlessness I feel. That is the only way to describe it. A yearning...but for what. I got myself ready for the gym and once outside under the trees felt a little calmer. I did my two classes and came home. I thought that maybe some retail therapy might help so went off to some shops but all of the clothes just confused me so I walked out again. I must have done this with five shops in a row. Walked in, looked around and walked out again. What is this restlessness which won't loosen its grip on me. I feel like bird in a cage that is flapping its wings against the bars. Walking home I thought maybe this restlessness is because I am not doing any formal meditation, although I am constantly mindful. Once at home I plugged out my phone, put on some music from Sir John Tavener, lit a candle and gathered myself on my stool. The music immediately soothed and I could feel the tension drain away. I remembered the power of being in the present and started to repeat the mantra 'just this'. On the in breath I said 'just' and on the out breath I said 'this' and as I did this I could feel everything relaxing. I felt like I had come home again. There was an ease and a connection which had been missing for all of yesterday and most of today. I do not consider myself a mystic so flowing lines about mystical one-ness are not going to appear. The only way I can describe it is like experiencing a sense of completeness of there no longer being anything missing.

And that is where I am as I write this. I return to work tomorrow to the world of form. I think that the balance will be good. It is easy for me to get lost in the formless. Eckhart Tolle understands this. In one interview he describes how for many years he was trapped in the world of form. His form took the shape of depression. Then he had a profound experience where his consciousness shifted to the formless and for two years he did nothing but sit on a park bench lost in the formlessness of being. He will freely admit that it has taken time for him to balance the form with the formless.

Not being overwhelmed by either the world of forms or the formless is the challenge of the spiritual path. The correct balance results in enlightenment....


Anonymous said...

"He didn't make me feel wrong but I could feel a hot flush of shame as I saw how my action had robbed her of the opportunity to have a breakthrough in that area for herself."

Perhaps it is true that you limited her choices, but at the same time you wanted to help her get there. It is also possible that you sensed some resistance on her part that you wished to overcome. You were trying to help her to "learn how to fish" since that is what the course appears to offer. Her attendance itself might have been a breakthrough for her.

It seems you are overly deferential to those who you see as being in positions of seniority, such as your boss, or this supervisor. Is that so?

Anonymous said...

"A yearning...but for what."

Your Mr. Sunday, that's what.

"When I don't see him I'm missing him and fantasing what I will say when we meet again."

No mention of him today. Was he in your thoughts?

Margaret Dempsey said...

When I read your comment I was once again reminded of the words of Irwina Tweedie who underwent training by a Sufi master. She said 'criticise yourself constantly then you may get somewhere'. This only applies to the spiritual path. There can be no ego defensiveness on this path. It takes a certain leap of faith and a leaving behind familiar ways of behaving if an expanded state of consciousness is to be achieved. Achieving this state is dependent on the strength of the purification process.

If I had defended myself along the lines that you suggest in your comment then this would have been my ego coming out in defence. But what would I have been defending? Nothing only a point of view that I was right in how I dealt with with the situation. For me it is more important to be happy than to be right. I can feel and experience 'happy', not so 'right'.

I had a choice at that time to either defend my ego or take the lesson as a spiritual lesson. To someone who has not committed to a spiritual path this course of action is difficult to understand and does give the impression of being deferential. This is far from the truth! I am deferential to the message, not to the messenger!

I think that if this was the beginning of my spiritual journey I might be inclined to think like you do. It is the second cycle for me and I know what is possible from being hard on yourself but as I say from a position of high self-esteem and not low.

Thank you for your comment