From Power and Impotence to Strength

There is only one solution to the human condition: for one to face the truth … to recognize that there is no power transcending him which can solve his problem for him. Man must accept the responsibility for himself and the fact that only by using his powers can he give meaning to his life.

~Erich Fromm

 

There is a lot of power in this world and a lot of impotence. There is a lot of authoritarian behavior and a lot of helplessness. There is misuse of power, and there is strength, but what is what?

First of all, I shall explain a number of words. Power is sometimes seen as a positive word but usually as a negative one. Here I depict it as negative, as a fixation that belongs in the first phase of our model: in the pool of stagnant water. With this I make a distinction between power and the word “strength” from the third phase. It is one of the treasures we can find at the bottom of our stream of emotions.

Power and Impotence: Two Sides of the Same Coin

You could say that where there is power, there is impotence; and where there is impotence, there is power. As with all polarities, you will find that if one side is fully aware, the other side is unaware. Someone who uses power in contact with his fellow men feels impotent inside. Someone who behaves like a victim, helplessly, is a ruler deep down inside. Power and impotence are both compensations of the opposite. They are really the same but with a different manifestation. Some people feel mainly powerless, and some live mainly from their power. It is more often the case that within one person power and impotence alternate. They swap places. Our bodies clearly show our survival strategies. We will look at the expression of power and impotence in our bodies. I shall describe the typologies although we are, in actual fact, hybrids of various survival strategies. But there is usually one type that is dominant.

Power: The Swollen Body

If you feel powerful on the outside and use power to survive, you often look powerful. It is, however, exaggerated fake power. It is body builder’s strength. The muscles are strongly developed and the body is top-heavy. The power is in the chest: “Here I am.” It is the survival strategy of the child that has been overpowered one way or another and has not known intimacy. To make sure that does not happen again, you try to be as independent as possible. You are inclined to ignore your own and other people’s needs and to repeat what has happened to you.

We see an extreme form of this in the behavior of psychopaths and terrorists. By showing one’s power and qualities, the overpowering can be massive and open. This overpowering is sometimes done with more subtle manipulations.

The feelings of worthlessness are so strong that they are too painful to feel and are compensated by the opposite, by showing how good one is “I’m okay, but the others are not.” We can see this mechanism in whole sections of the population: people think they are special as compensation for a very painful feeling of inferiority. This compensated feeling of “I am okay, but the others are not” means feeling free to abuse power and take part in criminality, terrorism, and war. It goes without saying that this is an extreme form of the problem of power. Many of us use power as a compensation for feelings of impotence.

Anny comes from a large family: she was the ninth child. Mother was an alcoholic, and father was unemployed and addicted to gambling. Anny never had the feeling that she was welcome. Even worse, she was called ‘a nail in her mother’s coffin.’ She might have been called Queen, but she was never treated as such. She was also sexually abused by her father. At sixteen she severs her ties with home and decides to prove that she is a queen. She ends up in the world of prostitution and quickly works her way up to become a madam. She holds sway over many foreign girls whom she rules harshly and pays little. She vents her anger, which is probably meant for mother and father, on her employees.

Impotence: Slackening of the Body

If you feel fundamentally powerless in life, your body will express that as a slackening and heaviness: the head is positioned forward as if trying to find support. The shoulders are rounded and hang downwards and express a lack of aggression in the original meaning of the word (aggression comes from the Latin aggredior, which means to go towards). There can also be a hollow chest, where deep sorrow and loneliness reside and sometimes tenseness in the stomach so as to not feel the emptiness. Gravity is felt most in a slack body. The feeling that belongs to this type is one of not getting where you want to go in spite of great effort and struggle. The feeling is one of suffering that often reaches further than one’s own suffering; you share the suffering of the whole world.

Anger: The Common Denominator

Restrained anger is central in both power and impotence. A powerful person is more likely to show his anger in macho behavior, insolence, and misuse of power. He will not be inclined to work on himself or his repressed anger. A powerless person will try to hold in his anger, in which he is bound to fail from time to time. He will be more inclined to work on himself as the depressive component is felt. The powerful do not feel all that much. They use all their power to prevent themselves from feeling. Setting old anger in motion will help both to dissolve their fixations on power and impotence. The following is an example of a man who has remained trapped in his impotence:

Bill is a nice, kind man of fifty. He is very interested in personal growth and spirituality. He has already done many courses, from Psychosynthesis to shamanism to Reiki, and all have enriched him. Yet he has remained basically depressed. He cries easily and often, and yet he does not feel relieved. The depressions and the unexpected mood changes keep on coming back. Sometimes he is grumpy and short-tempered towards his partner for no reason at all, and he feels guilty about this later. He sympathizes with the suffering in the world and can cry about what is happening to Mother Earth and to the children in his street who are growing up without any spirituality.

Getting in contact with the anger smouldering under his sorrow would fundamentally help him further. How should he go about this? He could begin by projecting the whole world on a cushion and enlarging his wrath. Something in the vein of: “I hate you with all your misery and all your stupidities, with your violence, etc.” I imagine that he will eventually arrive at the little boy who could not withstand the emotional violence of his mother or could not defend himself against the bullying by other children. You can deal with anything in this way. Put it all on a cushion, talk to it and see who emerges on that cushion. You will peel the onion of your emotions and bring these emotions home. And everything that really comes home, finds peace and quiet. He has to make a connection with his repressed anger. He may then be able to use his creativeness and do something about the spiritual development of children.

An example of somebody who is extremely locked in his power is the murderer of a politician. He is an environmentalist, a fighter with the small print of environmental laws in the hand. He describes himself as somebody who is not sensitive and says that in his work, he does not act from his feelings. ‘I just act rationally; I do not have to be an animal-lover to protect animals,’ he says. After his arrest, he remains unbending and silent and fights via a hunger strike for an ending of the camera surveillance in his cell. He seems to be completely hardened in his own power game. Nobody knows what is really going on in his inner self, and perhaps he does not know himself.

Here, setting anger in motion is the road that should be taken. Contact with animals also helps according to experiments with hardened criminals in the prisons in America. By giving every prisoner an animal as company, which they have to look after, they become soft-hearted and open. The man from the above example might be helped if he had an alley cat to look after. Perhaps that would be the first step to his becoming a friend of animals. The next might be his becoming a friend of humankind. Everyone is a child of God and a fragment of the one Great Spirit and deserves a chance to find a way out of his/her protective shell. That is if he/she wants to, of course, and everything depends on that. People like this have been so damaged in their love that accepting the love of an animal can be the first cautious step on the path to love. It is all about the ABC of love. That is why it is important for children to have animals and to live in nature. They can learn to set the first steps on the road to love.

Mutual Attraction of Power and Impotence

As power and impotence are two sides of the same coin, they will constantly seek each other out; tormentor seeks victim and victim seeks tormentor. They are each other’s mirrors and just like Narcissus, we all need a mirror to get know ourselves. A weak teacher always finds a class that bullies him, and a woman who is frightened and has no inner strength will find a rapist on her path. This is not about the despicable “It’s your own fault.” There is no judgment here. It is about the chance that the mirror of life gives us to get to know ourselves. And, yes, these can be very difficult lessons in life. They need not be repeated for those that want to understand them.

The Game of Power Within Ourselves

This tormentor and victim game does not only exist in the outer world but also in our inner world. There, too, the pursuer and his victim seek each other out alternately. A victim has always got his tormentor at hand, and that is also an important light switch. If everything in the outer world is a mirror and if we agree to take that as a working hypothesis, then we have an important lesson in life: seek the inner game of power and impotence. Go and find out in which way you are your own tormentor and in which way you make a victim of yourself. A few examples:

Are you a workaholic that never takes a day off? Then you are your own tormentor.

Do you criticize yourself often because of your appearance, your inabilities, or your fears? Then you are your own tormentor.

Are you a slave of your own perfectionism? You are your own tormentor.

Discover your own inner war in this way. I think that our inner wars are the most important wars on this planet and the cause of those in the outer world. When you make peace with yourself, you are actually contributing to world peace. A good way to make peace with yourself is by letting your tormentor and your victim, the hardened and the hurt part of yourself, talk to each other. Put them both on a cushion and identify with them in turn. Or write a letter to them, so it becomes very clear how you treat yourself. We often forget that the way we treat other people (also animals and plants) is based upon the way in which we treat ourselves. We often forget that the way we treat other people (and animals and plants) is the base of the way in which we treat ourselves. How nicer you are to yourself, the nicer you become towards another. And for that, you do not have to do anything. It will all go automatically.

People with Inner Strength

You are the salt of the earth, but if the salt has lost its flavour, with what will it be salted? It is then good for nothing, but to be cast out and trodden under the feet of men.

Ye are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hid. Is the lamp brought to be put under the bushel… and not to be put on the stand?

~Jesus

Who has inner strength? There are many misconceptions about this. Somebody told me admiringly about a woman who had transformed her pain from a rape in earlier years to strength by founding a worldwide imperium in the escort branch. She had become exceedingly rich.

In today’s world, we imagine she became socially and financially rich because of strength. But do we call it strength when you take the sexual abuse you have experienced into prostitution in this way? Is it strength when you let other women be sexually abused? Is it strength or a sublimated way of working off your own undigested pain of sexual abuse? I expect that it is the latter. Our world is poisoned by such forms of working off undigested emotions. And the terrible thing about it is that we do not even notice it anymore. We do not know the difference between these types of strength, between financial and social success and strength. Anger is not annulled by the power or influence she achieved, and it is also not transformed into real strength. The cause still exists and the inward journey has not been made.

True strength has nothing to do with social and financial success. True strength is all about overcoming power and impotence and digesting your pain. With true strength you have explored power and impotence exhaustively, lived through them, and overcome your own inner war. You have been through the mill. You are not familiar with violence anymore, not against yourself or another. You have found your strength at the bottom of your deepest emotions and at the bottom of your deepest weakness. Somebody who struggled with the acceptance of her strength had the following dream:

I am sitting with my son on the floor. He has a salt pitcher, spills the salt, and makes a little hill of it. I tell him to be careful with the salt, but he just goes on. Then I’m at a Spark of Light Week and Riet tells me, ‘Identify with the salt.’  I say, ‘I am the salt of the earth’ and become confused. I wake up crying.

A person with inner strength had the following dream:

I am walking on the beach with my dog. On my right is the sea, on the left, moorland and bushes. At a certain moment a big green snake glides out the bushes. I know immediately that it is a poisonous one. It comes towards me and wants to attack me. I am holding a cane that I point at the snake; it rolls over on its back in surrender. When I wake up the next morning, I know that I have conquered evil and now have inner strength.

Strength has everything to do with taking full responsibility for your life. You are no longer a victim, and you do not have to blame yourself or anybody else for anything. Problems are seen as challenges and as a chance to learn something.

The Body That Is Set Free

Let us look at the body of a person with inner strength. It is a body that has been set free. It radiates strength and spirit but also vulnerability and flexibility. Relaxation is the basis of the body. Gravity no longer makes it heavy but links it to the earth from which you can grow, light-footed, towards the Light. The body rests in its center, in the abdomen. Here you can find what the Japanese call “hara” and the Chinese call “chi.” When you rest in your abdomen, you are connected to power that makes you strong in the world, but not in a defensive or offensive way. You have finished with that. You are just yourself, and you rest in your own strength.

from my book: the liberating power of emotions

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Ego and essence

 

Soul, spirit, and ego are only words. True entities of that kind do not exist. Consciousness is the only Truth.

~Ramana Maharshi

 

There is no ego. There is no self. There is only consciousness. We should have listened to Ramana! Then we would not have introduced such a disastrous separation between “I” and soul and between psychology and spirituality. From the beginning of modern psychology, the ego became the territory of psychology while the self or the soul became the territory of spirituality. It is an artificial separation and by using this terminology we run the risk of also remaining separated. They are all attempts at understanding man and his path in life, of course. We need models to clarify the Path and beacons for our consciousness so it can find a way to unfold. Yet it is good to realize that all those divisions are only “thought up” constructions and not reality. There is only consciousness and manifested consciousness and that is who we are. We are entire consciousness, but we have trouble embodying that consciousness entirely. The path we have to take in this life on this earth is to make our consciousness complete in our lives and also within our bodies. Mystics have put it like this: God is trying to realize himself within human beings. Or: we are hidden gods. There is really only one way, and that is from subconsciousness to consciousness on all levels: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual; body, mind, heart, and soul. After saying this, we can have a look at what is meant by the ego model.

The Ego

That I am a human being, I have in common with all people; that I see and hear and eat, I have in common with all animals. But that I am I is exclusively mine, belongs to me, to nobody else, not to an angel, not to God, except in so far as I am one with him.

~Meister Eckhart

Our self or ego is the center of our conscious personality. It is the feeling of identity, apart from others; it is an instrument for living on earth. The words self and ego mean the same to me.  Nowadays it is fashionable to be nasty about this ego. Expressions, such as “ego tripper” and “he has a big ego,” can be heard all over the place. People speak of “the need to dismantle the ego which is like a psychological cancer.”1 In a Dutch file of A Course in Miracles, we read, “The ego is a disruptive element, a twister, a doubter, a sharp one, a Gordian Knot, murderous, an ostrich” to name but a few swear words. The ego is set apart from the self in the Course; it is called “the focus of consciousness” that you need as long as you “believe that you live in this world.” I do not know quite what to make of the latter. Does it mean that it is an illusion that we live in this world? According to the Course, the ego is an illusion anyway, something which does not exist. “The ego is the wrong identification, namely with the fearful, separate part of our mind…The ego is the thought of separation, of an separate identity, apart from God and apart from the rest of creation.”

Do we help each other when we swear at that neurotic ego that comes from our hurt inner child? This is not a very loving way of talking.

First, I suggest that we show respect to our egos as center of our conscious personality. Second, it is clear that the neurotic, damaged part of our ego needs help and healing. Third, healing is only possible with love and not with disdain and grumbling and scolding.

As soon as we declare that the ego is an illusion, which not only the Course in Miracles does but also other New Age schools, as well as the Eastern way of thinking, we not only deny the reality of our personality but also the reality of our damaged and hurt children. By now we have seen that we do not gain anything by denial only a piling up of our problems. Our ego is not an illusion; instead, it is our identity, our unique and personal interpretation and expression of our universal consciousness. Its development, however, has been damaged. It has been made neurotic and this creates the problems, not the ego itself. We shall hold the story of Narcissus to the light as we can learn something about the ego from that:

The story of Narcissus and Echo.

Narcissus was an attractive young man who scorned the love of the nymph Echo because he was conceited. Echo was so disappointed in love that she pined away. Finally, only her voice remained, her Echo. Narcissus was punished with an insatiable hunger: he fell in love with his own image that he saw in a clear well but could never reach.

It is remarkable that the part of the story in which Echo plays a part is rather an unknown and neglected element in the story of Narcissus (perhaps this has been a symptom of the neglect of women for centuries). It is, however, of essential importance, as I will demonstrate. We can regard Echo as the female side, our anima as Jung called it. She represents our longings, our feelings, and emotions. Narcissus refuses to form a relationship with Echo, his female side. Echo pines away until there is only an echo, a weak and vague remnant of her true voice. The result is that Narcissus becomes only interested in himself. He falls in love with his own image that he cannot reach. We must connect our rational side to our emotional side to become a whole person. The anima and the animus must have a relationship with each other within the human soul. Narcissus and Echo should enter into holy matrimony based on equality. Echo will then no longer be a shadow but a valuable partner.

Narcissus’ story is our story: “Here I am!” and “You can’t ignore me!” Instead of entering into a relationship with Echo, we become obsessed by her. The consequence of this repressed emotionality is that we become focused on ourselves, involved in ourselves, or egocentric, which are all words for the same thing: Narcissus. If we do not want to get to know Echo, the ego becomes a narcissist.  We all try to be altruistic and let another person take precedence, but self-involvement comes in through the back door again by means of extravagant behavior, all kinds of unconscious ways of asking for attention: intolerance, provocative behavior, and being too sure of yourself.

If our self or our personality is to emerge in a healthy way, then it must be emotionally integrated. You can then be the center of interest because you have something to say or do that deserves attention without being loud or entering into a conflict with another person. You will then be a strong personality.

We could say that ego is only healthy with Echo.

In the preceding chapters, we have described the path of ego with Echo in many variations. Our Echo needs a lot of healing. On our planet, she has become but a tiny echo of what she really is: our emotion and our sister. She screams from pain and she cries for recognition. When people say that another person has a big ego, it is really Echo who is shouting from within! If we integrate our Echo step by step with a huge amount of emotional Work, our little egos will become less narcissistic and, as a result, powerful. There is nothing wrong with a powerful ego. A powerful ego describes a person who has integrated his or her Echo, and is, therefore, emotionally integrated. He knows what he wants, knows what he is able to do, and knows what he feels.

In other words, only a powerful ego is a powerful person capable of surrender and connection with All that is. The continuing confusion between a healthy ego and one that has been made neurotic makes the discussion about the ego so difficult. It is really so simple: there is individual consciousness which is partly our ego. This is a mixture of the feeling of identity and of neurotic identification. The other part of our consciousness is what I call our Spark of Light that corresponds with the soul or with Jung’s concept of “Self.” It is the center of our entire soul, our totality. We are essentially that Spark of Light, which is so much more and far greater than our ego, our conscious personality.

In our inner work it is essential to first free the self from its neuroses so only a powerful, healthy, and strong personality remains that can connect to All that is. Without a strong self, we will drown in the sea of the life, and that is not what we want. Surrender is different; In the second place, it is about realizing our Spark of Light more and more and conjuring it up from beneath the debris of the hurt ego. I speak of conjuring on purpose because it does not happen with the will of the self, neither with meditation, nor by practicing virtuousness. It is an alchemistic process; by melting down and transforming our emotional debris, the essence of who we are gradually appears. We have elsewhere described this as the process of the pool of stagnant water, from the stream of emotion to the ocean of essence. In that ocean of essence we are a Spark of Light of the One Great Light. We gradually realize that Spark of Light to the extent that we purify ourselves of the emotional debris.

Identification

It is important to have a more detailed look at the process of identification when discussing the ego. It is, hereby, about how the ego composes itself into an identity. Our ego, as a separate person apart from others, grows on a base of love and respect. When important key figures, in our culture primarily our parents, give us a name and recognize us as their child, we attain a place on this earth and a safe nest which we can later leave and go wherever we want. Because of our vulnerability, we need such a safe nest. Because of confirmation and respect for our unique presence, we feel safe and become secure and enterprising and do what our soul invites us to do.

A good identity is built with love. And this is where we reach the essence of our story: love and lovelessness. What I have just described is what it should be, ideally speaking. Our ego is, in reality, built with love and lovelessness, and that is where the confusion originates when we talk about our ego. Our ego (or we) grew up in this mixture of love and lovelessness. We did not only identify with love: “I am good and lovable” but also with the lovelessness that we experienced: “I am not good and lovable.”

The more love we have experienced, the more powerful our identity will be at the end of our youth. The less love we have experienced, the weaker our ego will be. The path I demonstrate in this book is the path of repair work with which we can lessen the lovelessness for ourselves and increase the love for ourselves. Because of this path of love, we learn to tip the balance in favor of love and build a powerful self in this world that can realize the soul’s call on earth. For that is what it is all about: developing a powerful instrument to be and to do what we came here for—to become, each and every one, in his or her own way, a Spark of Light of the One Great Light.

The Spiritual Question: Who Am I?

I am the imago Dei in the darkness of the earth.

~C.G.Jung

 

Generally speaking, we can let go of something when it is lovingly fulfilled. When our needs as a baby are fulfilled, we can grow towards the next stage. Usually we grow physically and mentally but only partly emotionally. This is because of our emotional backlog. If something is not emotionally fulfilled, we remain stuck in it. This has been discussed in previous chapters as fixations. This is the reason why we usually remember the traumatic experiences of former lives; that is where we got stuck. What is fulfilled disappears into the background and transforms itself into strength or a quality. Because of the affective deficit, we get bogged down and identify ourselves with what is only a matter of secondary importance. Because of this, we often identify ourselves deep into adulthood with roles we have played.

I was a late arrival and because I had a powerless role in comparison with my sisters and I was not yet in my strength, for a long time I identified myself with Tom Thumb. In this way you will identify yourself with the fact that you are a child of certain parents (that is your personal neurosis) with your profession, your father, or mother, or with being the wife or husband of your partner. As soon as you identify with a role, e.g., include it in your identity, you lose part of your true identity. You are not somebody’s wife…it is a role you play in your own film. But what is your true identity? This primeval question is what it is about in spirituality: who am I when I leave all roles behind? Am I the sum of all my roles and qualities? Or am I more? Or am I something completely different?

Within spiritual movements, people have always said, “You are the child of these parents, but in reality you are…‘a child of God, Light, a Buddha, a Christ.’ By identifying with your self and with its roles, you lessen yourself and become less than you are.” True spirituality always confronts us with the question of who we really are deep down. It invites us to realize the highest and deepest aspect of who/what we are, and they are both the same! Everybody agrees to this, but now what about how! How do we do this? By calling the ego and its roles an illusion or a nuisance because love and lovelessness, light and dark, young and old, are so mixed together? Or by liberating the ego from its neurotic darkness and in this way from its attachment to what are only roles and exterior appearances?

It will be clear from what I have written up to this point that I choose the latter path. This is the path of wholeness, whereby we respect everything and learn to love by means of digestion and integration. We do not need to get rid of anything. Nothing is excluded on the path of love. If I can love my “Tom Thumb,” I let go of the identification in a natural way and grow towards who I really am. I will always carry the story of the late arrival with me, but I do not identify with it. I now love that late arrival. This path of love will then be about fulfilling all identifications through loving emotional work and thus to letting go of them. In this way we arrive step-by-step at who we essentially are. We peel our onion further and further till we get to the core. By loving our restricted ego, it becomes fulfilled and disappears into the background. Light will then eventually come to the fore. The wonderful thing about light is that it contains all colors! These are the pearls that we find in the third phase of our model: creativity, thankfulness, strength, courage, trust, and freedom. Together they form Love with a capital letter.

The Fear Behind the Path of the Ego as an Illusion

Because our ego has been a mixture of love and lovelessness, we have become afraid of it, and it has confused us on our spiritual path. For this reason we have declared that the ego is an illusion and a nuisance that hinders us on our path to God. The fear of pride and the inflation of the self, which developed from lovelessness, are the reason that many spiritual schools chose amputation of the ego. Even there where people make a distinction between the ego as identity or self-awareness and the neurotic ego, we see that the latter is called “the dangerous ego” which is seen as proud and egotistic. And we do, indeed, see many spiritual egos on the spiritual path, all styled according to the above-mentioned story: spiritual Narcissuses.

Premature Identification

Everything is one in origin, but every thing, every element, every being has the task to reveal part of that unity themselves, and it is that special own identity that everybody must develop whilst at the same time, the feeling of the original unity must be awakened.

~The  Mother

 

The ego inflation that, in fact, carries a false identity originates when we identify ourselves prematurely with the Spark of Light which we essentially are. Nowadays people say very easily that you should identify yourself with your “higher self” or essence. Somebody who was suffering from a deep depression was (well meaningly) told not to identify with the depressed part but to understand that she was essentially essence and light. She was told not to focus on the wound but to decide from her soul that she had had enough. It did not work. This woman had to work right though her depressions to liberate herself from them and thus find Joy as expression of her essence at the base of her depression.

A temporary identification with the wound is necessary to be able to cope. However, when we do this with consciousness, there is always a part of us that does not become identified with the wound. This clear presence of consciousness helps us through. Buddha did not reach Enlightenment through meditation either but because he had reached his lowest point of despair. When he sat under the Bodhi tree, he despaired of meditation, and then it happened. The formerly mentioned Eckhart Tolle described that he went through deep despair before his enlightenment experience. At the deepest point, he had the feeling that he was flung out of it. He described and interpreted his experience later within the Eastern way of thinking. The way through this deep despair is not an easy one. It is the most difficult path that there is for us at the moment, but it is the most worthwhile. To be able to handle the depth of this Work, the ego must be strong; that is why the many steps of emotional work are necessary. A great temptation on this path is the premature identification with the light. This identification then serves denial. Many people nowadays profess to be “past the ego” or “past therapy.” They have yielded to the temptation and the pretense that they do not have an ego anymore or at least no negative emotions anymore. The courageous resist this temptation and go to the bottom of the pool of emotions. Only there, in the depths of your own truth, can real treasures be found.

The Higher Mathematics of Spirituality

We shall have another look at the background of our fear of ego inflation. If the self as the center of our personality is not pure and chaste, but weak, we are in danger of not being an instrument or a Spark of Light of the One Great Light but entirely identifying ourselves with it instead. We are then not able to connect the greatness of the realization of one’s essence to a deep feeling of deference for being part of Essence. In my language: a total understanding of the fact that we are light and that we are, at the same time, a Spark of Light as individual. The switch in identification from ego to Self can only be made when we have purified and liberated our personality from its neuroses in such a way that we can understand the higher mathematics of identification a little. The higher mathematics are these:

I am Light, but the Light is not who I am.

I am All, but All is not who I am.

I am God, but God is not who I am.

I am earth, but the earth is not who I am.

 

These mathematics cannot be understood with reason but can only be received through purifying experience. It is good to have an idea of this beforehand, so you not only understand which path you want to take but also reduce your fear of greatness and recognize and avoid the dangers of ego inflation. The wonderful thing about emotional work is that it not only connects us to our greatness, but also to our smallness. After all, we do work a lot on childhood sorrow. This keeps us firmly rooted. Depth can then develop in which height becomes possible without it being false. Ultimately, we will realize consciousness in this way.

Riet Okken

From my book: The liberating power of emotions

 

From Wishing Death to Loving Life

From Wishing Death to Loving Life

 

As long as a person gets in his own way, it will seem that everything gets in his way.

~Emerson

 

Suicide and the attempt to commit suicide are themes that should not be omitted in this book. It is a subject that needs some clarification. First and foremost, I would like to state that I do not have an opinion about the fact whether suicide is permissible or not. This planet is a place of free will, and that is a precious and important part of the “experiment Earth.” This means that we are allowed to do what we want with our lives. I believe that there is no judgment and certainly no condemnation in the cosmos. Suicide and the attempt to commit suicide are an indication of much human suffering which needs help and clarification.

If people try to kill themselves, it is usually a sign of obstructed emotionality and life energy. The reason for having a death wish is often sought in existing life issues. However, the present problem is the result of the path through life whereby denial and repression of emotions are central (again). By focusing on present life issues, we do not go to the heart of the matter, namely the death wish. Taking your own life is usually self-denial rooted in self-hatred. Self-hatred is hate that is wrongly directed and which should be transformed into anger and grief. Suicide, certainly when it is committed in an aggressive way such as throwing yourself in front of a train, is usually retroflection, a boomerang of extreme aggression directed at oneself. Even if depressive behavior and despair are demonstrable on the surface, we will have to search for the original anger and the beginning of sorrow. It is also possible that a flood of emotions from the subconscious play a role. The self is not strong and integrated enough to steer the emotions in the right direction.

If we cannot find the cause in the present, where should we look? In the past, of course! Despair and self-hatred do not just come into existence; they have their roots in the past. To find a cure, you must go back to where it went wrong in your life because that is where you take the sting out. That sting is called undigested experiences. It is never the trauma itself! This is a misconception that often leads to a sense of victimization and to victim behavior. As soon as you realize that these undigested experiences are the reason for your misery, you can start with the Work of digestion. During sessions I found that many people have a hidden death wish. In actual fact, many discovered a suicidal child in themselves. Sometimes it was even a suicidal baby, who was, of course, not able to articulate that feeling. Arthur Janov, the founder of the primal scream therapy, claims that a hundred per cent of his clients have been confronted by suicidal feelings during sessions. Most of us have forgotten those feelings because they were once too painful. Remembering these feelings is very difficult because our perception of reality was vague when we were a baby. We had difficulty focusing, and that is the reason why we have more difficulty remembering the time we were a baby than we do later years. But it is possible to let this suicidal inner child come to the light in deep emotional work as an adult. Suicidal tendencies are a generalized “No” to life and also generalized anger against life and the whole world. The light switch in this work is directing and localizing the “No” in time and seeing which life you are really saying “No” to. This “No” has usually got to do with an old history that you have repressed. You have forgotten the story, repressed the feelings, but the subconscious “No” as expression of pain and anger has stayed and been generalized to the whole of life and directed at the here and now. It is, therefore, very important to always place your feelings and emotions correctly in time and place.

I remember a young woman who, during emotional work, started to feel how she once lay in a cradle in a room with many doors where she felt very unsafe. She experienced her parents as being emotionally distant. In her perception, she did not have a warm emotional bond with her parents. After she had felt emotional coldness during breathwork, whereby she started to shiver, her suicidal inner child started to speak: ‘I want to go back’ and ‘I don’t want to be here.’ By completely experiencing this ‘No’ in an eruption of anger after which an intense and helpless grief came out, her “Yes” to life could grow.

If you want to be able to say “Yes” to life, you will have to find all your “No’s”, experience them again, and specify them; by digesting the “No’s” in your past, your “Yes” will become bigger in the present!

Besides this experience of emotional coldness and disappointment in the childhood years, you may perhaps carry a so-called incarnation refusal on the basis of past lives. This often happens when you died in a traumatic way in a past life, during a war, for example. The same Work applies here as with the “No” from this life. By experiencing the old trauma anew and by working through it in an emotional way and by remembering it, energy will be released that will help you to live fully in the present and to say “Yes” to the possibilities life on earth offers you. I know the incarnation refusal from my past life. I died a traumatic death in Auschwitz in my past life, which meant I had now a lot of trouble coming to earth. As a child, I always used to walk on my toes, and I remember my mother encouraging me and saying “Heels, toes!” I did eventually learn to put my feet on the ground, but my soul had more trouble with earth. Only when I relived that past life in therapy did life start to become really nice. Your “Yes” will always be unsatisfactory if your “No” is repressed. Your “Yes” will become more complete to the extent that you bring your “No,” which has many layers, to the light. The following is the story of a forty-year-old woman and her liberation from depression:

During a number of months, I felt myself becoming more and more depressed and tired, and I had a flat feeling as if dark clouds were hanging above me, and all lights were going out inside me. I desperately wondered where all my cheerfulness had gone. I was sure that it had nothing to with my current life and situation. I had a great relationship, beautiful children, and nice, interesting work. The depression felt like an ancient part of my soul, but I could not place it. When I started Spark of Light Work, memories started to surface: when I was a child, I wore a button with the text: ‘I wish I was dead’. Everybody laughed about it, I did, too. But I did not wear it for nothing. I remembered lonely, sleepless nights. My teenage years followed. I withdrew; I thought I was stupid and uninteresting. Alcohol helped me to feel a bit better.

Through intensive breathwork I reached emotions that I once could not express, but now could, thank goodness. I experienced this seemingly endless loneliness and cried for weeks. When I had worked through this painful period, images surfaced from a past life in which I had committed suicide as a young woman. Here, too, intense breathwork aided by music helped me to remember and to digest. From my emotions came the image of losing my mother as a young child and being lodged with family by my father. As a grown-up, I could not find my niche in life and felt very lonely. During the reliving, I felt how alone and desperate I was. It defies description. I felt less and less life energy and was pulled towards death as if it was the only solution. I cut my wrists then. In the reliving I could feel how the blood and life slowly drained out of me. I was happy that there was someone there to supervise this process. In talks I started to see the connection between that life and the depressions in my current one. After all this deep Work, I started to recover from this ‘dark night of the soul’. I started to gain energy and what I had wanted so much, happened: I regained my pleasure in life.

If you have remembered and digested the pain of your past, in this life or in the past one, you can feel compassionate about your inner child or the other person you once were. You straighten your back and meet the challenges of life with courage and pleasure.

The Work in Steps

Here are the steps to move from moving from wishing death to wishing and loving life:

  • Going from the realization of a general “No” to a specific “No.” Starting to remember where the “No” belongs in time, place, and relationship.
  • Expressing the “No,” the anger, and the sorrow in a therapeutic manner.

Embracing the inner child and granting it life

Riet Okken.

from my book: the liberating power of emotions

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sexuality and Emotions

Sexuality and Emotions

 

Remember: you only have one energy. At the lowest point it is called sexual energy. You refine and transform it. Energy starts to rise. It becomes love, it becomes prayer.

~Osho

 

Sexuality is often undervalued or overvalued. Where is the center? The heart is to be found in the center. Without the heart as center, sex becomes empty and hollow, a compulsive recurring behavior or a repeatedly returning release of tension.

Adult Sex or Childish Hunger

All kinds of love are sought in sexuality. Much is mixed up together. A lot of the searching for touching and tenderness has its origin in our inner child. At the same time we are grown up and searching for adult sexuality. A lot goes wrong in the sphere of sexuality because of this mixture of childhood lack of love and adult sexuality. This is because the one cannot be supplemented by the other. The child’s hunger for love cannot be fulfilled by sexual contact. They are two quantities that we should differentiate between. Something is wrong when you need sex on a daily basis because you want proof that the other loves you. When you subconsciously try to satisfy your subconscious child’s hunger in an adult sexual way, sex will never be fulfilling and never enough and your child’s hunger will also not be satisfied. This mixing is, in reality, the deepest source of much sexual disappointment, but also of a phenomenon like sexual addiction. In the case of the latter, sexual abuse and affective neglect often play a major role. We can see the optima forma of confusion between adult and child here. Our emotionally neglected inner child does not want sex. It wants parental love and that is completely different.

What should you do if you recognize yourself in this description? It is, in the first place, about making an inner distinction between the child and the adult. Before you become a whole person, you must see and feel your dissociatedness first.

What are the needs of your inner child and what are the ones the adult has? If you have a partner, it is good, beneficial, and enriching to be able to go to him or her and ask for a hug and for attention like a little child. At another moment, you may want to express your love for your partner sexually, but do not mix these feeling up.

Sexuality and Power

Old connecting threads often intermingle right through our current sexual relationships. Power plays a major role in sexuality. With power, you can enforce love, for example, or what you take to be love. An example:

Up till twelve years of age, Harold thought, very purely, that his mother would initiate him into sex. Of course, within our culture, this led to a disappointment. Now that he is an adult, he has nightly power struggles with his wife, with whom he is otherwise good friends. He frequently wants sex and makes a lot of fuss if she sometimes does not feel like it. Many nightly rows are the consequence. He finally discovers, within Spark of Light Work, his longing for his mother, his huge lack of physical warmth, and his longing for sexual initiation by his mother. He suddenly feels the connection between his anger about the physical contact he did not receive from his mother and the power struggle with his wife, the second woman in his life.

How much old anger about unfulfilled love plays a part as power in our sexual relationships? Two issues play a role here; on the one hand, when there is a lack of warm physical contact with the parents this need will be ‘sexualized’ which means that it will be taken to a genital level where it does not belong (men especially tend to do this). On the other hand, the mother is the first great love in the life of the boy and the father in the life of the girl, for whom an enormous longing exists. There are many little girls and boys who want to ‘marry mummy or daddy.’ Freud ultimately based his whole oeuvre on this. When something goes wrong with your first great love, it will have further consequences for your other relationships. Partner therapy or sex therapy without studying and experiencing that first great love, is work half done.

Sex as a Painkiller

The longing for sexual contact can develop when you do not feel good, are unhappy, or feel completely worthless. The ‘great’ feeling sex gives you, works as an emotional painkiller. The high of sexual excitement is an easy method with which to pep yourself up and drive away feelings of loneliness. But for how long? There are more people addicted to sex than we realize. People talk and write about it more often since Clinton and his sexual affairs. This is a good thing, but is sexual addiction also recognized within ordinary relationships? The way out of this intermingling of sex and defense of emotion is obvious: learn to feel what you feel, pay attention to it, talk about it, or work at it, as described in this book.

You should also make the decision to not mask your feelings in any way again. When you feel vaguely unhappy and long for sex, ask yourself what you really want and which feelings really play a part.: do you feel afraid, unloved, alone, or hurt? By giving that attention together with your partner, you will enrich, and make your relationship more profound in a completely different way. Perhaps so much intimacy of the heart will occur that it will be good to be sexually intimate too.

Sexuality as a Repetition of Old Misuse

It is a well-known fact that if you were sexually misused as a child, you will tend to fulfil your need for love with sex. The compulsive repetition behavior behind this is disastrous. It does not solve anything. The only way to fundamentally liberate yourself from this compulsive repetition is to mobilize your repressed anger and sorrow. Proceeding from there, you can once more start to feel what you really need; sometimes sex, but usually love.

Sexuality and Intimacy

There are people who use sex to avoid real contact. The emptiness of contact has to be filled by sexual diversion. People often tell me that their relationship is   ‘rubbish’ but that ‘sexually everything is fine.’ There are people who avoid sex because they are frightened of intimacy. An example of the latter:

An average marriage: a long standing marriage but a problematic sexual relationship. He avoids sexual contact in this relationship. He is very ingenious in finding reasons for not having sex. He is tired from working, does not feel well, or thinks that she insists too much. He broods on an idea for months, but is indignant when she suggests that he perhaps does not want sex at all.

The only thing that really helps is to be honest and sincere towards each other. In our modern society, we seem to be very emancipated with regard to sex, but things are seldom what they seem. Our ability to be completely intimate, with heart and soul, lags behind our ability to have sex. Here, we see what happens when sister emotion is denied and oppressed. Sexuality cannot do without intimacy and intimacy does not just fall into your lap. Emotional growth and courage is necessary to start on that road.  The ability to be intimate has nothing to do with sex, but with the ability to share your emotions, your heart with another person. Many fears lie in wait that are often not even recognized e.g. fear of attachment, fear of abandonment that may go far back to your childhood. Feelings of inferiority can play a role here and all kinds of imprints that tell you that you will get it or be humiliated if you show your true colors.

Sex remains a delicate subject in many families. Teenagers prefer to consult anonymous information sources. Most questions asked on the children’s help phone are about sex and the same goes for the question and answer section of young people’s magazines. These candid youth magazines give the impression of a youth for whom sex holds no secrets, but what about the connection with emotions?

Carl Rohde, a cultural anthropologist, said in an interview about the sexual development of the past century:

The great thing about the past century is that sexuality was rediscovered at the beginning of it. Sexuality has always been there, of course, but it has been rediscovered. It seems that, since Freud, we all have the idea that our true identity is in our sexual organs. On the one hand that sounds pretty provocating, but psychoanalysis keeps quite a firm hold on that. If you repress sexual energy you become completely depressed is what they say…A society came into being where people suddenly started to think ‘I must do something with my sexuality otherwise I will suppress something or other.’ On top of that, the twenties and thirties saw the rise of the consumer’s society which went together with secularization. The moral ‘go ahead and enjoy’ came into being. The culture of ‘go ahead, enjoy’ went against the culture of self-control and modesty of Christianity. In that culture Freud said that you can enjoy sexuality. He not only says that you are allowed to enjoy but that you must enjoy, otherwise you have a problem. That was very new, also because Freud’s theory had the nature of a scientific study.’

Together with the rise of Feminism whereby women discovered that they had their own sexuality, and the invention of the pill of course, sexuality was freed from the nineteenth century Victorian Puritanism that was full of shame.  It is now time for the next step and that is the connection between sexuality with the possibility of being intimate and for that our work of emotional liberation is vital. Then the pendulum will once more hang in the middle. Sexuality will then be neither overestimated nor underestimated but find it rightful place in our human relationships.

Sexuality as Primal Energy

How would you react if I said that God’s energy is really sexual energy? If you are shocked, that means that your idea of sexuality is restricted to what you experience in your relationships. Sexuality is, however, much more. Sexuality is primal energy. Everything came into existence because of the fruitful cooperation between male and female energy. It is the same with God. As we have primarily made God male, we have difficulty seeing that God, the Totality, from whence everything originated and became individual, is also a whole of male and female, electric and magnetic energies. There was a male Creator but also a female Creator. Both created and brought everything else forth with their sexual energy. Sexuality is truly creative energy.

We, in our ignorance and backwardness have forgotten this story. We have also forgotten that we worshipped God as a Mother. It is important in our evolution to bring the image of the great Father and Mother together again and that for us to realize that we came from both, from their sexual energy. If we regain an intensely felt relationship with that energy, we will be able to worship sexuality as a holy, healing, and creative energy. We can then feel that sexual energy is more than erotic or genital energy, but that it has to do with liveliness and the creative urge. Sexuality will then become a sparkle in everything you are and do.

 

Riet Okken

From my book: The liberating power of emotions

Jealousy, Longing, and Fulfilment.

Jealousy is one of the most prevalent areas of psychological ignorance about yourself, about others and more particularly, about relationships.

~Osho

The only Bible story I remember from my childhood days is the one from the Old Testament about Joseph and his jealous brothers. Father Jacob had many sons, but Joseph was one of the youngest, and he loved him most of all. Moreover, Joseph was very special because of the dreams he had. One of his dreams was about binding sheaves of wheat with his brothers in the fields; his sheaf stayed upright while his brother’s sheaves stood in a circle around his and bowed.

As a child and a late arrival, I loved that story. On a subconscious level, I recognized myself in Joseph and my elder sisters in his brothers. They were also jealous of the late addition to the family. I cannot recollect any concrete deeds that were done from jealousy; I was not thrown in the well or sold. I have discovered through reliving the past, that jealousy did have an effect on me on an energetic level. Jealousy means, ultimately, that others begrudge you life and light. My sisters did not do that because they were nasty people but because they apparently did not get enough of what they needed in life and had the impression that their little sister did.

And that is what jealousy really amounts to: ‘Me, too, please’. If you feel jealous, it is always a signal of your own unfulfilled desire. It is a longing for something that the other has. Jealousy is often swept under the carpet of respectability because it is not right or not really permitted. I think it is a good thing to allow yourself to feel jealousy and to learn from it. Of whom and what are you jealous and what do you long for? You will keep the jealous energy to yourself in this way and not allow it to go to another person who will feel it one way or another on an energetic level. Jealousy can become your teacher on the path to fulfilment. It shows you the path to what you long for but have not brought to fulfilment yet.

Of course, the next question is how are you going to fulfil yourself? That can simply be done by becoming aware of your longing; it is just a question of “going for it.” Just go and do what you long to do. If you, for example, are jealous of people who can play music beautifully, learn to play an instrument or take singing lessons. ‘

“Going for it” takes effort, discipline, and perseverance. That is where it often goes wrong; people want their fulfilment handed to them on a plate. The longing inner child does not come in contact with the adult will. But that is the second step.

Let us take as an example, the jealous feeling you have when your wife pays attention to another man. Your message is “I want a lot of attention, too.” You do not usually want more attention from your wife but have just discovered the bottomless pit syndrome. These longings usually stem from your inner child that did not get enough love. What you should do is go to your wife like a small child and ask her if she can pay attention to the inner child. You should not go to each other as adult men or women but as the little children that you still are sometimes. The latter is very important. A shortage can only be supplemented on the level at which it belongs, and that is usually at the level of your inner child. You must do this consciously. You do not really have to change anything; you only have to ask consciously for what you usually demand from each other subconsciously. This not only allows you to become aware of your inner child but also allows that child to catch up. If you can also acknowledge the feeling of sorrow that you have because your mother or father were too busy to give you much attention or they were perhaps ill or dead, then you are on the right path to healing yourself and having adult relationships and fulfilment. If you give your inner child a chance in a relationship, it will become fundamentally richer. We think that we are grown up, but our unfulfilled child regularly emerges in all kinds of ways. The subconscious child makes us demanding in relationships and especially in our married relationships. We all demand subconsciously that our partner fills the hole that we have felt since childhood. The subconscious child is usually the cause of marriage problems.

A person who is fulfilled is never jealous. If you feel jealous, it is time to get to do some inner Work! Just get on with it! Your life and that of others will become much more pleasant!

Jealousy, the Urge to Possess and the Fear of Abandonment

There can be a subconscious nagging fear of abandonment in relationships where jealousy plays a major part. The tendency to regard the other as your property stems from this fear of abandonment.

Eric and Anne have been married for years. Subconsciously they have a complementary relationship; she is his mummy, and he is the undernourished boy who never grew up. When she goes into town to do shopping, he looks for her after a couple of hours. When she wants to visit a friend, he makes nasty remarks over that friend. When she wants to follow a course, he advises her not to, and if she does anyway, he sits and sulks like a child. This goes on, year in, year out. Finally she gives up her mother role and says that she feels stifled in their relationship. She wants freedom and space and wants to divorce him. His answer is to threaten to commit suicide.

With this threat, he shows that he wants to leave her but stop her from leaving him. He thinks he can defeat the same with the same. He ought to realize who it is he actually feels abandoned by; it is logical to think of his mother here.

This does not mean that his mother literally left him by, for example, dying when he was young. Such a fear of abandonment and the ensuing urge to possess usually stems from affective neglect. The only way out of such a dilemma is for him to realize that he is trying to get his wife to make up for the absence of his mother. That is not what she is for, and what he is doing will not work as it is a never-ending story. Because this is happening at a subconscious level, he will not become fulfilled by her motherly care and attention. He can only make up for this absence by becoming aware. It would be better and more effective if he was prepared to work at it on an emotional level.

Comparing and Self-acceptance

I was planning to write that jealousy is also a product of our deeply ingrained tendency to compare. I was building on what my former teacher Osho used to say—comparing is the basis of our inferiority and superiority complexes. But I now think that there is probably nothing wrong with comparing in itself. Comparing is a good method to becoming acquainted with the relative dependency of things. It is also a good way of getting to know your own merits and building up your own identity. By seeing the consequence of another person’s behavior, you can draw your own conclusions. You can learn by observing somebody who is doing something in a totally different way than you would. By comparing, you can see good and evil, light and darkness. We live in a world of polarity, and that is our school of learning.

And yet, there is something wrong with our way of comparing as it often does indeed lead to feelings of inferiority and superiority. The old emotional charges are prevalent here, and this causes comparing to deteriorate into something negative. We are compared to each other from childhood. We learn to compare ourselves with others in this way. It begins in the cradle: “He has his father’s nose” or “She is smaller than her sister.” That goes on, but it is of no real importance as long as there are no old emotional charges connected to these remarks, and they are loving or even emotionally neutral. Comparing becomes ugly because of unfinished histories and accompanying subconscious emotional charges. I think that the word “achieve” plays a major role in this case. Achievement thinking stems from deep feelings of worthlessness. Comparing that stems from subconscious feelings of worthlessness leads to comparing combined with emotional charge. I think that we all suffer from a feeling of worthlessness on this planet although we usually do not realize it. For centuries we built a culture based on an achievement-orientated form of comparing from this extremely subconscious layer. This achievement-orientated form, which originated from feelings of worthlessness, has become mixed with the neutral and enquiring form of comparing which is geared towards learning.

We must perceive as purely as possible. It is often said that objective observation hardly exists; we all have our own way of seeing things subjectively. A healthy way of seeing things means cleaning our doors of perception. That is what emotional Work is all about!

There is nothing wrong with us establishing the fact that Mary is better at abstract learning than John, who is better with his hands. However, it does go wrong when we generalize and say that Mary is more intelligent, stupid, pretty, or uglier than… We have all developed preconceived cultural notions about intelligence and beauty. I remember a former childhood friend of mine who was ugly according to the usual standards of the day. She had a large head, a big crooked nose, and unruly hair. But I remember her as a very lively, generous girl with whom I loved to play. I could not see her ugliness; to me, she was a wonderful person. And what are we to think of our culture of slimness? Or our culture of intelligence where we ask, “Who is the most intelligent?” Thank goodness the concept of emotional intelligence is finding its way in our culture. But there are a lot of cultural measuring rods taking our measure, and that is not good for us. The appreciation for the miracle called uniqueness is lost. For me, a very special aspect of creation is that nobody is the same. But even in this case, there are differences. God is very creative. However, it seems that we cannot cope with enormous creativity and diversity, and for that reason, we often use measuring rods and compartmentalization to keep a hold on all that beautiful abundance. Perhaps admiring creation instead of trying to keep a hold on it is part of our training here on earth. Perhaps it will also be possible to learn to admire each other in all our colorful diversity.

In schools, comparing also reigns supreme. This is expressed by figures, by stamps, and by favors from the teacher. The joy of learning together is pushed to the background for the purpose of obtaining good marks and passing exams. This is the way to obtain a fear of failure. Sport is all about competition and scoring points rather than about taking pleasure in playing a game together. It is no wonder that feelings of inferiority and superiority play a major role in our mutual relationships; sometimes you feel like a giant and sometimes like Tom Thumb. These are not extremes but two sides of the same coin; the achievement-oriented comparison coin. If you feel superior, you have a feeling of inferiority within you. If you feel inferior, there is a need deep within you to be superior. The common denominator is a feeling of worthlessness. In both cases, you have a tendency to prove yourself through your deeds, your words, or your appearance. You often do not realize that you feel inferior because of these compensations. These compensations have become so ordinary and so much part of you that you imagine that they are part of your authenticity. The only sign is the continual tension under which you live. Eventually you may have a burnout. You are, after all, not living peacefully from your own strength and authenticity. This is doomed to fail sooner or later.

The consequence of compensation behavior and comparing yourself to others is not having the slightest notion of your own uniqueness and because of this, not loving yourself. If there is no acknowledgement of your beautiful distinctiveness, then jealousy will rear its ugly head and play a nasty trick on you and on other people. Jealousy means living in competition with others and comparing yourself to them; it is a road that leads nowhere and deviates more and more from who you are. If you have learned to observe objectively in a clear emotional daylight, you will no longer compare yourself to others but love your own matchlessness. There will no longer be any jealousy. There will be love! Where there is jealousy, there can be no love… for yourself.

Longing

Knowing your true longings is an art that all of us, more or less, have lost on this planet. As we have all been trained by upbringing and socialization to do the things that are expected of us, we no longer know what we really want. You may have vague dreams of love and happiness and about finding yourself and maybe God. But how do you go about this? Why do you have difficulty achieving what you long for deep down inside yourself? I see five reasons:

  1. 1.     Adaptation.  

As you have become well adapted to your surroundings and are very much part of what is expected of you, you have little connection with your own vocation—the reason for which you are here on earth. Perhaps you were planning to do something for children. When you were a child, you dreamt of becoming a teacher just like that nice teacher in fourth grade. However, your father has a thriving business and high hopes of you carrying on his work. Your father is always very busy and works hard for his family. You do not want to disappoint him and succeed him in the business. Moreover, you earn a lot more. You forget your childhood dream and your soul’s path.

  1. Losing the connection with your needs.

This is the direct consequence of the above-mentioned adaptation. You do not know what you truly want. Perhaps you really do not want to know because then you will have to admit that you miss something, are unhappy, or made the wrong choices.

  1. You have become stuck in neurotic, unfulfilled needs.

If your basic needs have not been fulfilled and emptiness and pain have not been digested, you will remain stuck in those needs, and there will be hardly any room for other needs and desires to develop. Longings are, as it were, a rung higher on the ladder of basic needs. Maslow developed a great theory about this in the nineteen sixties. He distinguished a hierarchy of five basic needs: physiological needs, the safety need, the belonging need, the esteem need (respect and love), and finally the self-actualization need. A need must be fulfilled to a certain extent for the next need to be given a chance. A lot of people have become stuck in the first four basic needs, so self-realization is hardly given a chance or even not given one at all. After all, as long as your basic needs are not fulfilled and the pain of this is not digested, you will subconsciously repeat your patterns. You may, for example, remain oriented towards receiving compliments and having success because you once did not have enough recognition. For this reason, you choose those activities and things which render applause, and you do not choose what your soul is searching for. Another example is that you will be inclined to stay in your safe, enclosed world of suburban bliss if you were not given enough basic security in years past and did not digest that emotionally later on. The adventurous side of your soul will then perhaps not be given a chance, and you will not be able to realize what that side has in store for you.

  1. 4.     You use your head too much instead of your lower chakras.

A lot of education is geared to what is sensible and not to your needs. Especially in times gone by, a need was a rather tainted word, or it was an egocentric one. One of the participants of a Spark of Light week once said angrily that the only need you were allowed to have was “the need to go to the bathroom.”

  1. 5.     An old taboo rests on need. Listening to your own needs was once called egocentric. Living according to your own will was not right according to Christian morality. The word longing has a different meaning, but longings stem from our basic needs. If you do not know your needs, you will not know your longings. They are higher on the ladder of needs. Longings faired badly in religion, too. Buddha said that longings are the reason for all suffering. In almost all religions, detachment is of the utmost importance. Many desires or longings should be sacrificed for the benefit of the one longing for God.

Being Fulfilled

When you deny your basic needs and emotions too much, the flow of life becomes restricted and shut off in two different directions: from the inside to the outside and from the outside to the inside. You do not express yourself sufficiently or accept life’s gifts because of fear and control. Both your ways of expressing yourself and your ability to receive become affected and minimal, and you have the feeling that you constantly lack something. And you do! It will, however, not help if you subconsciously try to fill this lack from the outside. Our consumer society developed in this way, and as everybody knows, it is never enough!

Our emotional dependency on each other also developed in a similar way. Take a look at our marriages and relationships: we say implicitly and usually subconsciously that the other must fill our gap. This is what most marriages are based on, and they may also be ruined by it. It is the story of the complementary relationship: the man and woman complementing each other beautifully. After a little while, if we learn that the other is not able to fill the hole we have inside us, we become disappointed or keep to our petty ways or look for another person with whom we try out complementarity again. This happens if we do not become aware of our hole and realize why it is there. Because of this, power plays such a major role in our relationships. It is our subconscious demand “Fulfil me.”

How can you fill your gap in a healthy way? Or perhaps we should not fill it at all? Or perhaps it is impossible anyway? These are the questions people will ask on this path of inner growth when they encounter what they lacked in their childhood. The Spark of Light Work has two fundamental aspects: digestion of old pain and learning to accept anew what you went without and shut yourself off from. I know people who, in therapy, only worked through the first aspect. They have expressed a lot of anger, cried a lot, and faced their fears; yet something is missing, namely the feeling of fulfilment. I will illustrate this with an example:

Mary-Anne had followed a therapy course, which included a lot of emotional work. It had done her good. She had become sturdier, more assertive, and independent. She had also learned to embrace her inner child and comfort it. Yet she remained unfulfilled in her contact with others and in love, and she was not really happy because of this. She soon found out during Spark of Light Work that she had embraced this child, who lacked a lot, too early. When she was emotional, she noticed that she, in all reality, hated her inner child. She hated it because it needed so much. It turned out that behind this self-hatred, there was another hate, especially aimed at her mother who did not give her what she fundamentally needed. But this was not all there was to it. The next step was opening up to others again. To this end, she had to become aware of and overcome the pride of her inner child who had decided to do everything on its own.

This means that you have to learn to ask once again, this time consciously and with people who can now help you. A colleague of mine always said, “You were once dependent on that one woman who was your mother and on that one man who was your father. Now every man can be your father to some extent and every woman your mother.” So receive, knowing that it is not about the quantity of love, which does not even exist, but about the quality. It is not about the person but about your willingness to receive. It is important to receive it at the level at which it belongs, and that is the level of your inner child. This means that you ask as a child and not as a grown-up. It is good to distinguish between the child and the adult that are within yourself. The child has, after all, other needs than the grown-up. If you have a partner, it can enrich your relationship if you can be a child with each other. With this, I do not mean just playful children but also Work with each other alternately as needy children. If you feel uncertain about certain things even though you have done various form of therapy, “ask your partner, “Am I doing this right, mummy, or daddy?” or “Do you love this little girl?” or “Will you hold this little boy?”

This is perhaps new and unfamiliar to you; yet we do just this in our relationships with partners although it is then subconscious. The only thing you have to do is do it openly and consciously. This is the path of bringing everything to light. And one day it will be enough, and you will be fulfilled, content, and thankful for what there is.

more in my: The liberating power of emotions

Bringing Shame to Light

 

Bringing shame to light is the quickest way to get rid of it.

 

Shame is a significant obstacle. Not only in your life, but also in the Work on yourself. First of all, we shall look at what shame is exactly. Shame is a struggle between your “self” as the feeling of who you are and your ideal self. It is a subconscious fight. You feel shame when you think that you have to be different from the person you really are; you are ashamed of yourself. Your ideal-self consists of all the messages you have received since your early youth about how and who you should be according to others. You were brought up with these messages. You have made them your own as it were. Shame is the consequence of your inner struggle between your own definition of who you are and who other people say you are. The more the scales tip towards the ideal-self, the more you feel ashamed in this, usually, subconscious struggle. Shame has to do with external matters that you can perceive. The following areas are found the most:

  • Your appearance.

 If we open a magazine at random, we see that nowadays the emphasis is on looks. Famous people are put under continuous scrutiny. It is not about what they do but about what they look like. Hair, make-up, and clothes are constantly put under the microscope—women, especially, have to take the rap. After all, women are more emotionally involved in their looks. Women have definitely received more imprints with regard to their appearance than men, although men seem to be catching up. There are more men now that go to the hairdresser regularly, have their hair dyed, and have facelifts. Magazines of the worst kind, but sadly with a wide circulation, allow their readers to put together a top ten of the “worst cases.” A make-up artist or a hairdresser has the first go. Somebody has to do something about her eyelids or her “wildly growing eyebrows;” another has to do something about her hair that looks like a wig. Yet another is such a disgrace that she “should come by soon.” This is all under the guise of “helping.” The hairdresser does not want to make a fool of the ladies; he wants to help them. In any case, the people in the Top Ten now know what the world thinks of their looks. How malicious! Such an emphasis on appearance in the media is, on the one hand, the cause of the manipulation of women who are uncertain about themselves and their looks, but at the same time it is the consequence of an almost collective uncertainty. It is the result of being ashamed of your looks. All that emphasis is one big disguise of our inner uncertainty and shame. It is time to liberate ourselves so we can devote ourselves to more meaningful things in life.

  • Ways of expressing ourselves and spontaneity.

Being ashamed of the way you express yourself is a significant obstacle in your spontaneity. There are so many judgments! “Act your age,” “Don’t be so childish,” “a…doesn’t behave like that.” Shame comes to the fore when you are frightened of showing yourself as you are. Spontaneity comes from your core, uncultivated and uncivilized. As we have all been made neurotic and have become damaged in our natural qualities, we have to dig spontaneity up from under layers of shame and rejection. It has to do with finding your natural, spontaneous, inner child again. We have learned to play so many roles during our life, and we have learned so many virtues and morals that we have lost the knack of being ourselves. Spontaneity has also got to do with living fully in the here and now, and we can only do that if we have fought ourselves free of idealized images from our past.

  • Expressing emotions.

This is where we find a lot of shame. Shame can be present in every emotion in which you have been rejected. That is the reason why people put their hands in front of their faces when they cry or grit or grind their teeth when they are angry. There has been great damage in your life if you are ashamed of your natural emotions. After all, emotions are life and movement. They are, for example, the zest in your relationship and the truth in your religion. Being ashamed of emotions means restraining yourself more than is good for you. We have seen what pent-up emotionality means in this book.

  • Achievements.

 Some people are ashamed of their capacities because they have never been affirmed by significant others in the important years of their youth. Generally speaking, we can say that it is more usual to say what is wrong than what is right. We can see that in our newspapers where news is usually a selection of bad news. It would be fantastic if somebody published a “good news” newspaper. We have all heard the remark “Stop boasting” or “You are getting too big for your boots” when we said something good about ourselves. Jesus said, “Do not hide your light under the bushel.” The influence of Calvin and company was usually stronger than the original message of their Teacher. How paradoxical for a child.

  • Certain subjects can be full of shame.

Subjects, such as sexuality or other taboo subjects, may fill you with shame. Blushing is a symptom that may occur in these cases. Blushing is, in fact, fear of showing your vulnerability or a sign of a hidden vulnerable issue. A woman, who had been a frequent visitor of the Moulin Rouge in a previous life, blushed every time the subject of sex was broached. She was a biology teacher at a Secondary School, and this blushing almost made her work unbearable.

The Ways Shame Hinders Us

Shame is an obstacle in your development when it becomes the reason to avoid things. In extreme cases, there can be an atmosphere of keeping silent, denying, and lying. The core of shame is after all, something that is not allowed to come to the light. The most important obstacle for inner growth and development is the shame for expressing emotions. The rest is mostly a derivation. When you do not allow your emotions to come to the light, your life will eventually come to a standstill and be dull. When you keep things that you are ashamed of hidden away, you will not be able to solve them. Your problem-solving ability will thus be damaged. You may become passive. The most important step with regard to shame is to do what you are ashamed of. It will speed up your liberation. After all, the cause is usually in the past and the present does not have to mean a repetition of the past.

Methods of Conquering Shame

To conquer shame, your ‘self’ must become stronger, we have, after all, seen that “the ideal-self” predominates. To do this, you must become aware of the following:

  1. What does your ideal-self look like?

Make a list with traits you would like to have. Do you want to be prettier, more intelligent, tidier, or less chaotic? Can you show your true colors? Can you express the way you feel? You will gain clarity by making such a list.

  1. Which experiences lie behind this?

When were you made to look silly when you showed your vulnerability? Were you bullied, or did they laugh behind your back when you expressed something that was really “you”? Did people point their finger at you when you had to wear your sister’s old clothes?

  1. Which hidden messages are to be found under your shame?

I think that hidden, indirect messages play a major role here. Shame has a lot to do with secrecy. Think of messages in the above named areas.

  1. From whom are those messages anyway?

Who gave you the message that you were, for example, not pretty enough? It does not have to be a direct message. The most effective messages are the indirect ones. Were you compared to your sister? Or was your mother insecure about her appearance, and did she sneer at you every now and then? Or was there a competition going on at school about who could please the boys or girls the most? Or was your father not interested in you because you were a girl? Who gave you the feeling that you were a sissy or a softie because you cried? Or did your mother need a strong little man because your father was away a lot? Who secretly gave you the feeling that it was not right if you were angry? Or where did the feeling of being ashamed of sexuality come from?

  1. Accepting emotions.

Set your emotions in motion in the way that has already been described in this book.

  1. Do and say things you are ashamed of.

Leave your cloak of old neurosis behind and take the risk of being laughed at or rejected again. Neurosis is only fear of repetition. It can be completely different in the here and now. I overcame my blushing as a young girl by saying laughingly, “It makes me blush.” In that way I brought what was hidden to light and felt sure of my ground. The blushing went away quickly. Blushing goes hand in hand with shyness, the fear to step forward.

Shame is unpleasant because it gives you an “unfree” feeling and restricts your life. During the Work with emotions, shame can be a difficult obstacle to proceeding further along your path. We have learned to be ashamed of emotions, such as fear, anger, and vulnerability. It works wonders if you can show for once (in a safe environment) what you have been ashamed of all those centuries! Safety is one of the most important conditions of this Spark of Light Work. Shame is, as all neurosis, the consequence of a learning process and can be overcome with some inner Work. The device is “What you bring to light, becomes light.”

from my book: the liberating power of emotions, Ozark Mt Publ. 2012

Experiencing the Depth of Emotions

 

 

In order to find pearls, one has to dive deep.

People often say, “I am very emotional” or “I know everything about emotions” when they burst into tears over the slightest thing or if they frequently have tantrums. They shed a tear watching something on television, grumble when the cake turns out to be a disaster, or get sentimental when they have a few drinks too many. Usually these are projected and subconscious forms of emotionality. Others may be more aware of their true feelings but feel that expressing them is not very beneficial. A good cry now and then might make them feel better, but they do not feel that it actually improves things. What is missing here?

Experience of the Depths of Emotion

What does this mean? Using the metaphor of our overview of transformation and the pool of emotions; we can only reach the treasure which lies at the bottom of the pool if we dive down into its depths. Exploring the depths of our emotions means four things:

  • Intensity—feeling your emotions entirely, in all their intensity;
  • Feeling the depths of your emotions in your body;
  • Depth of content;
  • Depth of time and space—this means that we look at the deeper background of emotions and experience traveling back in time and place.

Intensity and Expression

First of all, this means learning to express the emotions of fear, sadness, anger, and joy through tears, intense breathing, your voice, and beating a pillow with a carpet-beater. This means allowing yourself to feel the intensity of your emotions. If you are not used to this, it might be a little scary at first. I advise you to find a good therapist, who can teach you to do this in a safe environment. Take your time to find out if the therapist is comfortable with this kind of intense Work. When I met fellow mainstream psychologists with whom I had not been in touch for a long time, I was requested to do so in view of assurances of the Exceptional Medical Expenses Act—I was shocked to see that even they were scared of intense emotionality. When I was quite open with them and told them I did breathing work and emotional therapy with people, I started getting phone calls from colleagues asking me if I was not worried about psychosis. Later on, I was called before the needs assessment committee. It took a lot of diplomacy to safeguard my contract for myself and my clients.

Expressing your emotions under your own responsibility, in your own home, or within your own therapy is essential on this path. In the New Age Movement, many people distinguish between positive and negative emotions. This is a pitfall really. Anger is often seen as negative and love and joy as positive. Love and joy are not anymore positive than anger and sadness. It is our mind—and with that our fear—which labels reality. A negative emotion is an emotion which is not expressed, and a positive emotion is one which is expressed in an effective, aware, and non-projected way. Not expressing your feelings recurrently makes you ill and could literally kill you. Many accidents probably happen because people are angry within. The intensity is there, but pent-up inside. We need to transform it in a non-damaging, healing way. I remember, a long time ago, not giving way at a junction and was hit by another car. I was on my way back from the dentist who had just made an irreparable mistake with one of my molars. My own unvoiced anger came back to me subconsciously, just like a boomerang.

Releasing the Emotions in Your Body: The Physical Depth

Our suppressed emotions are embedded in our bodies. In order to release them from the depths of our system, bodywork is needed. Different kinds of massage, Postural Integration and Rolfing, Shiatsu, Bioenergetics, Reichian bodywork, and breathing work are good for bringing lodged emotions to light. When doing bodywork, it is important to get to know the message and emotions of your body.

It is of no real help to you when somebody else does the work for you. There are many rescuers in the land of therapy, but they are really after power. They want you to believe they can heal and rescue you. If you surrender to them, you are the helpless, powerless one and will not be able to regain your own power. Breathing work is a good technique which you can do yourself, and it makes you less dependent on therapists.

Good therapists are people for whom the work with others is also an initiation and learning path for themselves during which they continue to work on themselves in a client situation. Therapy does not serve to cover up personal pools of emotions in that case. Good therapy knows a functional inequality—it is client orientated—but essential equality. Essentially there is brother and sisterhood in the joint Work. Fundamentally, what you need is someone who can offer safety and experience. In this New Age there are fortunately various possibilities for growth by means of courses, therapies, training, and books.

The Correct Message: Depth of Content

It is important to find the correct message from your emotions. Crying and being angry without knowing why is simply not enough. When you fully recognize your feelings, the message automatically becomes clear, and you will find words to describe it. This clarity is a necessary ingredient for liberation. It is important to know why you are crying or why you are angry. Very often people do not know the reason. My experience is that when you surrender to emotions and let them be there fully, the message becomes clear. First the emotion, then the nuance. However, we usually ask ourselves too soon why we feel the way we do. That is often a repetition of what our educators did in the past. When we are asked the question why, we are made to think and emotion disappears. The head should know its place, and that is a secondary place!

It helps to enlarge vague feelings and to exaggerate when you feel vaguely miserable, nothing seems to be going your way, or you are wandering around, grab a pillow and tell all your worries to it. Take out all the unhappy feelings on the pillow. Say anything that comes to mind and use the carpet-beater if you feel like it. Your life will become more fun if you clarify your vague feelings and moods as quickly as possible by setting your emotions in motion. I remember that I was often “bored” as a child and that I used to say, “Mum, I am so bored.” I always got the same reply, “Go and stand on your head and shoot tuppenny [two penny] pieces.” So what did I do? I stood on my head on a chair and called out again, “Mum, I am so bored.” I spent a great deal of time standing on my head instead of playing. It was not really boredom, but vague feelings of dissatisfaction. Now when I am “bored”—luckily this doesn’t happen very often—I enlarge this feeling to see what message it has for me.

A lot of our behavior is subconscious. Sometimes we do not know why we do certain things. Often it is just out of habit. But beyond this habit, there is a deeper meaning; otherwise we would not do it! The behavior is transference from something else. Sexual behavior, for example, without connection with one’s heart and emotions, does not bring satisfaction, let alone transformation. It tends to become a repetition or a search for technical variation. Sexuality can become an addiction unless it is connected to a deeper need for love. When love and affection are not received emotionally, sexuality becomes routine and is empty.

The Correct Address: Depth in Time and Space

Subsequently, it is important to find the correct address of your emotions. Many emotions originate in your past. Many irritations between husband and wife come from past situations. A lot of authority conflicts on the work floor can be traced back to authority problems with your mother or father in early childhood or to problems with older brothers or sisters or with teachers or priests. As long as we continue to vent our emotions in a projected way, there will be no liberation and no healing. Only by accessing the deeper layers of our emotions can there be a fundamental change within us.

I do not advocate literally dropping all of our old pent-up emotions at the correct addresses. Our parents and educators gave us the best they had and did the best they could. Emotional Work with a pillow is a good way of getting rid of your emotional garbage!