scroll down to see all 3 articlesInterview with Rhea Powers on 2012 and Beyond
We have had a lot of guidance that we should "be here now", that in fact the present is all that exists. Of course we are concerned about 2012 " and what changes might be coming our way. However, I am sure that if you look into your life right now you will see that we are already experiencing changes.
About twenty years ago I channelled a book from Sanat Kumara called Earth Changes. As it turns out, much of what was prophesied in that book twenty years ago is already happening in the economies of countries around the globe. We are already seeing a number of natural catastrophes and the number of natural disasters seems to be increasing. That was also prophesied. It's been prophesied by many people in many cultures, and it does seem to be happening now.
However, the thing that touches us in a more intimate, more close-in way, are the changes in consciousness that we are being pushed into. The difficulties in outer reality are challenging us to move deeper into our inner reality. And that is the place where the changes are actually happening.
Just as the world is shaking, there are also parts of our own consciousness that are on shaky ground as we are confronted with aspects of our own totality that we have not yet recognized. The shift that has been prophesied for 2012 has already started , in you, in me, and in those around us. We are challenged to stay centered. In the time ahead that challenge will grow as there are more and more changes on the planet, more and more changes in our governments, in our economy, and in reality as we thought we knew it. However , the only thing that we can do now is be here with ourselves, and attempt to stay as centered as we can in our daily life, and to bring as much awareness as we possibly can to who we really are right here, right now.
Perhaps you know someone, or perhaps you are someone, who has had a major event in your life recently. I know many people who are on a path of awakening, who are on a journey of coming to know the truth of who we are, who are having challenging events in their life right here, right now. Those events are challenging hidden or unconscious parts of themselves to be looked at, to be brought into awareness, to be examined. People who have been working on themselves and attempting to move beyond their personal patterns for years are dealing with the loss of a loved one, a disturbance in a relationship, the loss of a job, or some other event in their life that is triggering long buried unconscious material, and throwing them off center. Those of us on a journey of awakening are being confronted with hidden parts of our self.
It's very difficult to see those that we love being challenged or facing grief, and yet that is part of us learning to stay centered in ourselves and remain present with what is. And that is the only thing that is going to prepare us for the future. We can look at the future with hope, as if there were a Santa Claus, and hope that something out there was going to make our life better, our experience better. Or we can look at the future with fear, as if there is something outside of us, something separate from us that we need to be worried about or concerned about. However, I would like to suggest that, if we are present with ourselves, if we make it our business to move closer to the truth of who we are, then we have to open to the reality, that , as all the masters have told us , there is only One. We are not separate from reality. We are not separate from the earth or from the changes that the earth is experiencing. We are, in fact, all One.
The more that we are aware of our own depth, of our own true nature, of our own unity with all that is, the less there is to fear as outer changes happen, as loss or benefit occur in the world around us. Knowing ourselves, knowing the truth of who we are, coming closer to our true nature , that's really all we can do to prepare for whatever life brings us. That also helps us prepare for death, which will come to each of us regardless to what is happening on the planet, It also helps us to shift our perspective, so that we don't take the illusion of outer reality quite so seriously. Outer reality impacts us , yes ? and the changes around us have an influence on our experience of relative reality, at the level of our personality. Changes around us can trigger old fears. Our ego-structures might get a little rattled, might get challenged and our personality may attempt to re-enforce the old structures to maintain the status quo.
But in a way , if we are on a journey of awakening, that is useful, that is a benefit; " it is grist for the mill", as Ram Das would say. It is an opportunity to discover the places where we aren't clear, or the places where old fears dominate our present experience. It gives us a chance to look at the structures from the past and update our personal computer, by bringing more of our unconscious beliefs into awareness.
Actually that's something, I'd like to talk about for a moment.
We have a personality; we can call it our ego. That's part of the package. We have a body, we have thoughts, attitudes, opinions, gender, and we have our history , in this life, and in many, many, other lifetimes. Each of those aspects of our experience has an impact on our present experience of reality. However , none of that is who we are. It exists, it's real, we feel it, and we operate within that relative reality. However , if we are actually intending to wake up, to become aware, to know the truth of who we are, then we have to move beyond all of that. We have to move beyond our history, beyond our thoughts, our opinions, our attitudes, our points of view. We have to open to a deeper truth that lies within each of us, and which we have all touched at one point or another.
You have touched the part of yourself that is beyond the illusion, beyond the separateness, beyond the idea that we are this bag of bones walking around with this particular story in this particular reality, or you would not be reading this.
It's true that we have largely identified with our history, our body, and our thoughts and attitudes, but who we are is way, way beyond all of that. We could say that all of relative reality exists within the totality of who we really are. That's a stretch, and getting there is not so easy, but it is definitely possible. Each of us has, at some point, stepped outside of the box of our personality, outside of the identity that is most familiar to us, and that we identify as ourselves. We have touched a deeper place within us, where we know ourselves as the Unity, as the reality that is beyond all illusions. When we touch that place we experience peace, we experience surrender, we experience knowing in a very direct way , the truth of our being as the unity of all that is. The more that we are in touch with that, the more aware we are, the less impact changes in outer reality have for us. That is because we are not identified with the part of us that is threatened by those changes.
If we shift our center of gravity, if we shift the place within our totality where we locate our experience of who we are, then it doesn't matter what happens in the outer world. We have emotions, we experience loss, but we are not identified with the one who has experienced the loss. It is an experience passing through our totality, moving through our awareness, but it's not who we are.
In looking toward 2012, I have only one wish: that we wake up. That we move in our consciousness closer to the truth of who we are. That we come to know ourselves as Being manifested in form, moving from one form after another, each lifetime adding to our evolution, expanding our consciousness, so that we can all wake up. Whether that means that we continue in form or we dissolve back into the Absolute, remains to be seen.
If we wake up to who we are, we will naturally treat each other with loving kindness, because that is who we are. If we wake up to who we are, we will naturally have compassion, we will be wise with each other and with our planet, with the resources that are available to us here in this physical reality. If we wake up to the truth of who we are, most of the other problems will disappear.
As we awaken, each of us can take the next step in our personal evolution. We can live our lives out of love and compassion. We can move closer to who we really are. As we know from the hundreth monkey stories , that will impact the collective. Each of us, in our own way, can make a difference. We can be the drop of water in the stream that changes the direction of the stream. Because the stream is changed, it changes the direction of the river. Because the stream has impacted it, the river flows into the ocean of consciousness in a new way, bringing a new reality into manifestation out of the Absolute.
Although Gawain and I are no longer married or working together, I think you will find the following article useful. It was originally published in Lotus magazine, and is taken from the book: Riding the Dragon, by Rhea Powers and Gawain Bantle.
An important key in using relationship as a tool for waking up is "awareness of the process of projection." However, before we discuss projection, we need to clarify what we mean by the conscious mind and the unconscious mind. We define and conscious and unconscious parts of the psyche as follows: the conscious part of the psyche contains all the things you know - all the things within yourself and outside of yourself of which you have awareness. The unconscious part of the psyche is just that - unconscious. That is to say, it contains everything of which you have no present conscious awareness. The unconsciousness occupies a much larger part of your totality than you might assume. The conscious mind, in terms of its size relative to the unconscious mind, could be regarded as the last joint of the little finger of your left hand. The rest of the body could be seen as the unconscious.
The unconscious not only determines most of your actions and decisions but it also, in fact, determines the events of your life. Regardless of what the conscious mind says - regardless of your good ideas, good intentions, and positive affirmations - the unconscious is in charge. Without attempting to tackle the ancient debate between the concepts of free will and predestination, we observe simply that the choice you make flow from a much deeper part of ourselves than the outer, conscious mind.
Projection is the psychological process by which you overlay your outer reality with your inner dynamics. Knowing about projection is absolutely essential if you are to use relationship as a means of becoming conscious. If you are not aware of the process of projection, having a relationship serve you in "waking up" is difficult.
As a result of projection, what you perceive around yourself is not necessarily an objective reality independent of yourself, but rather is a reality shaped by your interior forces. For examples, if you find yourself thinking that your partner really is being selfish, your perception is not necessarily the truth. You may actually be the one who is selfish and since you don't recognize that quality in yourself, you see it manifested in the Other. Because of the process of projection, how you see the world and those around you is not necessarily how they really are. Rather, what you see and experience is your own internal dynamic, projected outward onto your environment, just as a movie is projected onto a screen.
Usually you are projecting parts of yourself (both the so-called positive and the so-called negative parts) which you have not seen, which are unconscious, and for which you have not yet taken responsibility. This is particularly true when you are reactive to what you see outside of yourself. By "reactive," we mean you have an unusual amount of energy attached to the particularly perception or that it has a "charge" for you. The more energy you have on something, the more you can be sure that what has touched you from the outside concerns what is happening inside yourself. I once thought Rhea was very insecure during one of our seminars, and I criticized her for it. When she hesitated in her response to a question, I thought she didn't trust her answer [which convinced me I was right]. Months later, I discovered the insecurity I had perceived as hers was actually my own.
What we are projecting onto the world around us is our own unconscious material. We will use the word "shadow" to refer to that part of ourselves we do not see, that part about which we are unconscious. Although that term has been used in other contexts to specify the personal unconscious or repressed portions of the personal self, here we use the word "shadow" to represent both personal and transpersonal material that is not currently conscious to the individual.
People generally act as though they like hearing "good" things about themselves and dislike hearing anything "bad." That is not true for many of us, however. Often we are much more inclined to recognize and expect the "bad" in ourselves than to recognize and expect the "good." Because there is a tendency to equate "shadow" with "negative," we want to emphasize that our shadow is not necessarily "bad." It is simply that part of our totality of which we are not conscious. Often we fail to see our own "good" qualities and project those qualities onto those around us. Our shadow is not our secrets of those things about ourselves we do not like or try to hid. It is those things we don't even know are there. If we know about something - if it is conscious - it is not shadow material.
When you look around your world and see something that angers or revolts you, it is because that same thing (or quality or trait) lives unconsciously somewhere within yourself. It is a reflection of a part of yourself that you have not yet acknowledged or taken responsibility for. If you have a really strong emotional reaction to a child-abuser or a wife-beater or an exhibitionist or homosexuals or a thief or a killer or men in general or women in general, you can bet that the very thin you are reacting against is alive and well in some part of your own psyche. When we get into fights with our partners, becoming angry and finding ourselves making our partners wrong and judging them, some of our own shadow material has been triggered and we are projecting it onto them. In fact, the more righteous we are about how wrong they are, the more we are defending against recognizing in ourselves the very things of which we are accusing them.
The quality or trait in our partner that is triggering our anger may show up in us in a different form but we are judging ourselves nevertheless. We saw a very powerful example of this during a recent Relationship Training we led for committed couples in Holland. One evening over dinner, we were talking to a couple in the training. The husband, whom we will call Bodan, is from Ghana and has established a successful life for himself in Munich where he now lives with his German wife. As we ate, Bodan told us about a shaman who came to his village in Ghana when he was one week old and dying. The shaman saved his life with the help of plants and herbs and marked him with a scar on his left cheek. At his parents' request, the shaman stayed in the village.
As Bodan grew up, the shaman taught him the art of talking to the local plants and leaves to find cures for sickness and other forms of distress experienced by the villagers. Bodan explained to use that the plants would tell his teacher the different illnesses they could cure.
Shortly before the shaman died (twenty years earlier when Bodan was eighteen years old), he told Bodan that he had chosen him to carry on his work. The early scar was the mark of being chosen. All Bodan had to do as a sign of accepting the mantle was to place a traditional white garment on the shaman's grace, whereupon the teaching would be his. At eighteen however, Bodan had other ideas. But two decades later over dinner in Holland, he was asking us if we thought he should still do something about accepting what his teacher had tried to pass on to him. The conflict between his enjoyment of his life in Europe and the call of his heritage was clear to us and to his wife.
The next day during a session in the training, Bodan starting expressing his irritation at his wife for her practice of talking to a stuffed dog whenever she had a decision to make in her daily life. He got very righteous and indignant as he warmed to his story of how a "grown woman" not only talked to this stuffed animal but also experienced getting answers from the dog and acted on those answers. How ridiculous! As his righteous indignation turned to anger, something clicked for us and we recognized what was happening. His wife's behavior was similar to the technique used by his teacher. The technique of using an external object to gain access to one's own transpersonal awareness is the basis of many forms of "readings," from tea leaves to Tarot cards or the I Ching. Since he himself had rejected the technique (and the mantle of healer/teacher that went with it) and was not at peace with his choice, he had to make his wife seem wrong for using a similar technique. The anger directed toward his wife was actually the anger of one of his own internal aspects directed toward another of his inner aspects. He was angry at himself for rejecting the role of his teacher had offered him. Once we pointed this out to him, he had the grace to recognize the projection. The next time the training met, not only were the couple in much deeper harmony with each other but they also had begin to plan their first evening workshop in Munich on traditional African healing techniques. Further, the wife was now willing to take back the wisdom she had projected onto the stuffed dog and claim it as her own.
Recognizing your projections is another way that engaging consciously in relationship can support you in discovering who you are. Understanding that what you see in your partner and are reactive to is what you don't see in yourself (even though it is there) gives you the chance to know yourself more completely. By being aware of the process of projection, you come to see that your judgments about your partner say more about yourself than they do about your mate.
It is very difficult to begin to "own" one's projections. We really do not want to understand that everything we criticize in others has an equivalency within ourselves. When you first start to integrate this awareness, you may find it painful to acknowledge that everything you hate, everything you loathe and can't stand, everything you have ever judged negatively is, at some level, in some form, a part of your own totality. When you realize that the process of projection is itself an unconscious defense against seeing yourself clearly, you can appreciate how difficult it is to recognize your projections and claim as your own the qualities or traits in others that triggered your reaction. Most of us would rather not acknowledge that we carry within ourselves the very things we judge as wrong in others.
On the other hand, if you can hold the concept that ultimately who you are is everything, that you are connected to all creation, then perhaps recognizing that you must also be connected to those expressions of the life force of which you disapprove is not so difficult. If ultimately you are one with All There Is, then you can't just be one with the parts you prefer. You are one with all of it.
Let's get back to aspects. You have probably experienced the feeling that your partner is absolutely revolting to you in the middle of an upset and then, moments later, when the upset has been cleared, he or she seems completely different. How can this be? Sometimes bringing the apparently conflicting images of a partner together can be difficult. Your perception changes as the aspect dominating your own psyche switches. What one aspect of your psyche projects onto the outer screen called "your partner" may be different from what a different aspect of your psyche projects onto that same screen. When you shift aspects, your perception also shifts, because what is being projected has shifted. What you see in the other person and what you see in your surroundings are a reflection of the aspect that is doing the perceiving. What is around you is a mirror of what is inside you. This is what projection means.
There is wisdom in the observation that whenever you point a finger at someone or something, three fingers of your own hand are pointing back at yourself. (Try it!) That simple gesture will give you clues to your own interior in a way that few other techniques can.
The moment we take responsibility for our disowned material and move toward integrating the parts of ourselves we previously projected outward onto others and then judged as wrong, our experience of who we are expands. "Yes, I am that, too." When we can say that, our experience of our Being expands and the way we experience the world around us shifts.
We all acquire a self-image in the process of growing up. Any time your self-image is threatened, your ego has a hard time. Taking back your projections, owning the disowned parts of yourself can be extremely painful. Recognizing that what you judge in your partner is actually a part of yourself can be shattering to your self-image.
In your self-image, you might regard yourself as a nice person, a peaceful person. But let's say your partner can be violent and you have always judged him or her to be wrong for outbursts of violence. (And no doubt you could get any number of people to agree with you!) Now, you hear about projection. Oops! Could that mean there is actually some violence lurking as shadow material in your very own psyche? Bingo! Yes, it could! Since you have always thought of yourself as a peaceful person, suddenly discovering that you may carry unexpressed violence can be a major shock to your image of yourself. (But then, why would you be attracted to someone who carries violence?) In fact, you may want to defend yourself righteously from acknowledging this truth. Here then is one saving grace of the recognition that you are a multiple, not a singular Being: you may have peaceful aspects and you may also have violent aspects. Both are part of your totality. You are not one or the other. You are one and the other.
This points to another challenge. When you do not own your shadow material, it will be dramatized by those around you. Usually this role falls to the mate. However, it may fall to the children or someone else in your circle. (You may have noticed that the children of ministers often live out those ranges of expression that are shunned by their parents.)
Once you begin to see how subtle and unconscious the process of projection is, you can begin to appreciate the challenge of reclaiming those parts of yourself you have projected onto others. It is often easier to continue to be the victim of a violent partner and righteously make that partner wrong than it is to acknowledge that, yes, violence also lives within yourself. Most people have seen teachers or gurus who maintain an image of holiness while their disowned violence, dishonesty, or promiscuity shows up in their followers or is eventually expression through them. Examples of this range from Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh to Werner Erhard and Jim Bakker.
Last year when our assistant totaled our car and the one she crashed into, it was very tempting to make her wrong. However, since we knew about projection we also knew that we had some difficult soul-searching to do. Since she was driving our vehicle, we were clear that in addition to whatever was happening for her, she was also dramatizing something for us. Looking at the underlying source of the apparent "accident" was very uncomfortable. We saw that after years of creating and maintaining our work in Europe, we had not taken responsibility for our own destructive energy which was, through the "accident," surfacing and needing to be honored.
When you begin to take back your projections, your sense of self expands and your awareness of who you are increases. When you begin to take back your projections and acknowledge as present within yourself what you have judged to be wrong in others, you need not necessarily act out those qualities in your own life. Acknowledging that you (for instance) carry violence within yourself, that some aspects of your own psyche can be violent does not mean you must therefore start manifesting violence in your daily life. Again, this is one of the gifts of the realization that you are multiple. You may have violent aspects within your totality. But you do not have to make that violence wrong. Nor do you need to allow your own violent aspects to dominate your psyche inappropriately. At times, allowing those aspects that are capable of violence to dominate your behavior may be absolutely appropriate. If you or those in your care were attacked by a person or a beast, your responding with violence might be appropriate.
As you say "yes" to all parts of yourself to which have previously said "no," those around you will no longer need to reflect it for you. As you say, "Yes, I can be violent," "Yes, I can be selfish," "Yes, I can be self-absorbed... I can be promiscuous... I can be nagging... I can be controlling," then those around you will no longer have to express your projected shadow for you. You may even find that your circle of friends begins to change as you take back parts of yourself you projected on others. Again, the unconscious wants to be made conscious. If you are unconscious of your own violence (or any other quality or characteristic), it will continue to present itself to you until you acknowledge it - until it becomes conscious.
If we take back our projections, if we own our disowned forces, our world will not have to reflect that material for us. If we can own and be responsible for our violence as individuals, acts of violence will decrease in the world. We will not need to create tyrants on whom to project what we have hidden within ourselves.
We - Gawain and Rhea - spend a great deal of time in Germany and we have watched what happened to the West Germans as the Wall came down. Most of them were born after the war or were children during the last stages of the Third Reich. Suddenly there was no "them" on whom the West Germans could project their shadow. In the last half century, first the Nazis and then later the Communists were the "bad guys." It is the same process the Western World went through with regard to the "evil empire" of the Soviet Union. But now the Wall is down. Germany is one country. There is no "them." The German people have therefore brought the neo-Nazis forward in order to have a screen on which they can see their shadow and have an opportunity finally to finally confront the unconscious Nazi that lives within themselves - as it does in all of us.
When you start to world in your relationship with the mirror image called your partner, when you begin to see yourself in the Other, to see your disowned parts in your partner, your world changes. Recognizing that what you saw in the Other is actually something you didn't see in yourself is part of the process of taking back your projections. It means you have recognized that what you reacted against was a mirage, a characteristic within yourself that you projected onto your partner. When you really see that, then there is no longer any need to blame your partner and make her or him wrong. In this moment, your partner changes in front of your eyes. It is miraculous. Suddenly you see your partner as you have never seen him or her before. Ahha! Now who is really over there? These moments are very sobering because you have given up some sacredly held belief about reality, and you suddenly must acknowledge that you were wrong - which contributes to creating true humility.
The process of taking back projections is a necessary part of waking up to the truth of what you really are. In a committed relationship there are plenty of opportunities for this process to occur. If you can let go of indulging your wish to blame your partner and play the innocent victim and instead use him or her to learn about yourself, you are a step farther on your own journey of waking up.
This is not easy work. It is confronting and embarrassing to see that what you have judged negatively is actually a part of yourself. It is also difficult for many of us to recognize that something we thought was so wonderful in the Other was also a part of ourselves. The so-called positive projections can be equally difficult to take back from the screen of the Other and integrate as a part of self.
NAKED ON THE SOFA
The view from the sofa is unobstructed - white space in every direction - no details to distract the mind from the fundamental emptiness of the space in which I unexpectedly find myself.
It is a sofa standard dimensions that presently supports the body I still inhabit - but the "I" that is doing the inhabiting is no longer familiar. The old one, the "I" that I thought I knew slipped away somewhere and though traces linger, like the perfume of someone who walked by a moment ago - the whiff is not strong enough to place in a bottle with a label. The labels are leaving also. Those I had attached to what I thought was myself continue to fall away - a fault of the glue, I believe. Something in the glue seems to have dried up and now the labels flitter to the floor like so many fallen leaves.
Fall came early this year and the labels scattered about the floor near the sofa attest to the shift in seasons. I didn't think the shift would come this soon - in fact I did not expect it this lifetime.