“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”—Mahatma Gandhi
My Fellow Game Changers,
Happy Thanksgiving! It is my privilege to launch this holiday season from my world to yours with some thoughts inspired by a dear friend who introduced me to an interview with Zen Buddhist master, Doshin Nelson Roshi. During the talk, Roshi discusses his views on Jordan Peterson, former professor of psychology at Harvard and currently teaching at the University of Toronto.
Previous to listening, I hadn’t known much about Peterson other than some controversy regarding his stand on freedom of speech (which is that there should never be legislation of any kind threatening it). Roshi called Peterson a “lightening rod” in the middle of what he labeled to be our “current culture wars,” and that without lightning rods such as Peterson, in his view, humanity is destined to dive into a “swamp of no return.” I have to say, after spending some time listening to Peterson’s interviews, I can see what Roshi was talking about. For to me, Peterson serves as an anchor for freedom and truth—regardless of whatever controversy he may be stirring up while in the process.
It appears that Roshi believes humanity is facing a crisis of epic proportion (if not already there) due to our collective inclination toward positionality, divisiveness, and control. This we play out in various ways (including but not limited to) in the political, philosophical, medical, educational, and economic arenas. While studying Peterson’s work, I learned that he dives into the origin of divisiveness, often through the lens of the late psychiatrist, Carl Gustav Jung.
From what I can gather in my own research of Jung, he had a profound interest in “the shadow.” This “shadow” casts itself over the subconscious mind and is associated with what Jung’s colleague, Sigmend Freud, identified as feelings, thoughts, and motivations which cannot be accepted as one’s own since they haven’t been appropriately identified let alone, examined. For one reason or other—often because of a trauma or challenge, this collection of “stuff” can stay buried in a tightly secured vault down under the conscious reaches of the mind—unless we chose to dive into the root of the issue when we are triggered.
According to Bruce Lipton, cellular biologist and consciousness expert, much of our human behavior is driven by the subconscious. Therefore, feelings and thoughts that have not been properly processed can get misplaced and cast upon others (either individuals or groups). If when you are charged by something or someone and are not aware of what’s really going on (which can often be the case unless you are an enlightened guru), your primal programing and default system for survival will be to blame—holding someone else accountable for your discomfort, instead of taking responsibility for whatever may be out of whack in you that could have caused your upset.
Is it possible that these current “culture wars,” or any war for that matter, are all about our propensity as a species to project our unprocessed pain onto others? And if so, is the only way out of such madness for each and every one of us to examine our own lives and take responsibility for whatever may be going on in our personal world, rather than being tempted to make others wrong—both in our intimate relationships and beyond? I know. To pursue such a course is a courageous undertaking and not for anyone lacking in chutzpa or wallowing in self-doubt. As the modern-day, wise philosopher Charles Eisenstein, writes in a recent essay (Oct 10, 2021), The Rehearsal is Over.
“We cannot wait for others to be brave on our behalf. We are here in this initiatory moment to choose who we are. The choice of whether to capitulate or to act is a declaration: Who am I to be? What is the world to be? Am I serious enough about my vision for the world to risk my security for it? That is not a challenge meant to goad myself into action. It is simply true. Through my choice, I will know myself as I am. I will become as I choose. The rehearsal is over.”
In another Eisenstein essay, The America That Almost Was and Yet May be Eisenstein writes: “The biggest crisis facing society today is communication. The division of society into mutually exclusive cults; it is the splintering of reality into disjoint shards…America today is riven with division.”
So how do we resolve the division dilemma?
Healing the Shadow
Ross Bishop in his book Healing the Shadow, who I quote in Chapter 4 of my second book, Self Belonging, available here: (stay tuned for the updated version—out very soon!), describes “the shadow” as this:
“After many years of work and study, I have come to the firm belief that there is no independent evil force separate from man’s (or woman’s) own inner darkness (the shadow). I believe the origin of our darkness is twofold. Part has to do with karma (those acts either done to us, or what we have done to others) we carry from our unresolved past struggles, and part is from our unresolved childhood wounding. Both of these reside in the “shadow” (per Jung) and if not healed can lead us to inflict great pain upon others and ourselves.” Bingo.
An Evolutionary Hinge-Point?
Is it possible that these tumultuous times are a signal, suggesting we are at a critical hinge point in our human evolutionary process? Will we make the leap from operating as a species defined by our divisiveness—forces fighting against each other, operating out of fear and anger, or will we choose to respect each other’s differences, taking responsibility for our own lives, including the good, the bad, and the ugly, rather than projecting any pain or—even goodness and false idolatry onto others? Will we heed the instruction of the masters, who taught us that the gateway to growth and empowerment is to have love and compassion for everyone, including, of course, ourselves; and to bring forth our own strengths and gifts to serve humanity, rather than expecting others to do it for us?
What will make the difference in how we go forward? Will our paths be touched by the awareness that as quantum physics proves, we are interconnected beings endowed with the imaginal cells of possibility that will strengthen as we join together in uncovering and cultivating our gifts and talents—both individually and collectively? As we do, will we gather enough momentum to catapult the entire planet into a much-needed upgrade in how we operate?
Or, will we forfeit the opportunity at hand, and continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, while taking the plunge into that swamp described earlier, destined to swallow us up—even as we go down shouting out our messages of righteous indignation?
In Self Belonging I show that I am in agreement with Roshi: when you first find and cultivate your own strengths and learn to belong to yourself by being on your own side—while taking responsibility for any perceived errors, like Jordan Peterson you will be a loving lightning rod for others immersed in the middle of their own individual and collective shadows and dark nights. Of course, part of the process involves your willingness to dive down into the depths of your unconscious cockles, while letting go of the past and any perceived wrongdoing by you or others. And each time you come up for air, you will recognize more and more frequently, that not only do you deserve to live a life laced with love, joy, peace, and truth, but so does everyone else living and breathing on this magnificent planet of ours.
Twelve Steps, A Path to Freedom?
Apparently, Jung was influential in developing the twelve-step program for Alcoholics Anonymous. According to Roshi, “Alcoholics had no hope previous to these steps coming into being.” The steps gave/give alcoholics a map for healing and ultimate freedom. While reviewing these, it occurred to me of what great benefit they could be as a guidepost not only for alcoholics but for anyone attempting to unravel whatever is cooking in that unconscious stewpot down under.
Now then, the way these steps are phrased may not appeal to everyone and you might not believe they all apply to you. Even so, you can certainly come up with your own version and pick and choose which ones you might want to focus on. For me, the fourth step is a zinger. “Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.” Doesn’t that one really hone in on all of that shadow stuff? And how better to do it than to hold hands with “the God of your understanding,” and fellow travelers while in the process?
On Forgivness/Letting Go
Let grievances become miracles.–Foundation for Inner Peace
I recently listened to a podcast with spiritual teacher, Matt Kahn who introduced an innovative exercise for forgiveness, which I’ve adapted as thus: Rather than let your ego be in charge of casting blame, consider asking that the Divine heal the “karma” (described in the Bishop quote mentioned earlier) between both parties—whether you perceive the situation to be their fault or yours, and contribute to the total re-habilitation/transformation of everyone involved—for not only the greatest benefit of them (and you), but anyone they (or you) touch going forward. Don’t you just love that?
Finally, the late Mahatma Gandhi, who freed a fifth of the world’s population from British Colonialism with his leadership in how to effectively employ “civil disobedience,” envisioned a state of “enlightened anarchy…Each person will become his own ruler. He will conduct himself in such a way that his behavior will not hamper the well-being of his neighbors. Shall we give it a go?”
For once, I am enthusiastically anticipating the winter months when I look forward to coming together with those of you who are interested in pursuing my course: How to be an Absolute Game Changer During These Crazy Times. Together, we will kick off the New Year as we discover/uncover ways, both individually and collectively, to heal the wounds of humanity—starting with ourselves. Stay tuned. Please join us for this fascinating/breathtaking adventure in exploring human consciousness—we have much to learn together! Cannot wait!
Believing in you!
With so much love,