I’m recently having a discussion with an LP student that I mentor. This relationship has evolved from a counseling relationship to a mentor relationship. Initially we were concerned with clearing away eating disorders, anxiety, and Non-suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) (picking). Having mostly cured these pathological outgrowths of a toxic childhood we moved on to spiritual mentoring, discussions of entheogens, and so on. However one lingering unresolved issue remains and this involves connection and intimacy in her primary intimate relationship. She, let us call her PB, expresses lack of emotional connection, lack of physical connection, and lack of sexual attraction. To this I state:
I think you and “X” need relationship counseling. You both come from bad backgrounds I assume. Both are dealing with forms of damage, and neither know how to have a good relationship. Many of the blockages we have are relational and so many of them only are dissolved in relationships.
To which she responds:
Yeah makes sense. If God is love and I can’t accept/receive and offer that, how I am going to embody and seat my higher self. But this world hurts Michael, and words hurt me. I know I’m more sensitive to that, how do you let yourself be more open and vulnerable to that, you know I can try and be more open but then the smallest things close me down again
To which I say:
But I’m not open to it at all. I don’t have any friends, and our family circle is tight and exclusive, not because we are elitist, but because we will not allow anybody in who would hurt us. We expect nothing but the utmost respect and concern from each other, we don’t tease, we don’t call names, and we strive to be compassionate and supportive at all times. We honor the nature and purpose of the physical unit by respecting its sensitivity and its boundaries. It is the only way we survive and move forward and become open. Otherwise we’d be stuck in this “open and close” cycle like you are.
Now there is a lot I could say here but what I want to focus on is a common misconception people have. Many people, whether they are trying to be “spiritual” or not (but often especially when they are trying to be spiritual) have this idea that they have to be “open” and loving to everyone. There is this idea that if you are “close to God” you are also “close to everyone” regardless of any consideration at all. We might call this the crucifixion syndrome, the idea that by suffering at the hands of others we are engaged in some brilliant spiritual behavior. In the words of PB from above we must be “open” in order to seat our higher consciousness.
But I’m here to say, this is not true, or at least, it is not as simple as all that. While I WOULD NOT want to say that we should be devoid of compassion and concern (quite the opposite. In fact, I would suggest that being truly spiritual means being filled with compassion and concern for all life, not just humans), I WOULD want to say that being open, trusting, and loving does not mean being vulnerable, soft, and exposed. The World as yet remains a greedy, violent, and dangerous place and you serve no one, least of all God, by allowing your physical unit (the “temple” of your Holy Spirit) to be damaged by the violence.
This is an important point!
You do not “go out into the jungle” with arms wide open, sword left at home. You must protect yourself and you must pay attention to reality, and the reality is we do not currently live in anything near an enlightened world. Our world is filled with technology, commodities, things, and fancy Hollywood special effects that make it look like we are all advanced and evolved, but this is just a collective delusion. In truth we live in a world lacking in even the most basic spiritual/psychological/emotional sensitivities. We live in a world where our physical unit is set upon from birth, boxed in with prejudice, defined by color, and assaulted over and over and over again, ironically most often by the people who “love us” the most. It begins with parents who heap physical and emotional abuse on their children in an effort to make them fit in and perform. It is continued by schools were teachers rank and order and sort and reward the few while dismissing the many as losers. It extends into work were the vast majority are exploited in sweatshops and tossed aside when they are used up. The profound and debilitating effect of years of violent insensitivity pile up, break us down, and kill us off. It is hell on Earth by any accounting, a horror show by any definition, and nothing short of disastrous for us all. You can deny it if you want but mounting scientific research on abuse of all forms (psychological, emotional, and sexual) is clear, it is bad, bad, bad.
Abuse of all forms is associated with disability, decline, and death.
Abuse leads to unhealthy and risky behaviours (Annerbäck, Sahlqvist, Svedin, Wingren, & Gustafsson, 2012), depression (Blain, Muench, Morgenstern, & Parsons, 2012; Hosang et al., 2013; Kendler, Kuhn, & Prescott, 2004; Liu, Jager-Hyman, Wagner, Alloy, & Gibb, 2012), anxiety (Blain et al., 2012), eating disorders (Burns, Fischer, Jackson, & Harding, 2012), personality disorders (Wingenfeld et al., 2011), post-traumatic stress disorder (Heim & Nemeroff, 1999; Zanarini et al., 1997) suicide attempts (De Sanctis, Nomura, Newcorn, & Halperin, 2012), non suicidal self injury (NSSI) (Swannell et al., 2012), lower school grade performance (Strøm, Thoresen, Wentzel-Larsen, & Dyb, 2013), lower IQ scoring (de Oliveira, Scarpari, dos Santos, & Scivoletto, 2012), and even increased incidence of physical disease (Cuijpers et al., 2011; Hager & Runtz, 2012), angina (Eslick, Koloski, & Talley, 2011), and heart trouble (Fuller-Thomson, Bejan, Hunter, Grundland, & Brennenstuhl, 2012; Fuller-Thomson, Brennenstuhl, & Frank, 2010; Hosang et al., 2013). If our Prozac nations are any indication, we are dealing with rampant levels of psychological dysfunction caused by epidemic levels of social abuse.
It is a mental and physical health crises of biblical proportions.
And we all experience it!
This much recognized in the literature. Annerbäck et al. (2012) note when definitions of abuse are liberal, just about everybody the planet becomes a victim of abuse at some point. Open definitions unfortunately make research impossible (how do you grouped statistical analysis when you have one group, the abused) and so more restricted definitions are typically invoked. But narrowing the window we view through doesn’t change the reality outside. Abuse is a problem and we are the generation that has to deal with it.
Which brings us back to the PG and the need for protection. As a student of the Lighting Path, as a seeker after spiritual awakening, as one holding out hope of activation and ascension, the first thing you need to do is protect your body and mind. Well, that’s not quite true. As a student of the Lightning Path, as a seeker after spiritual awakening, as one holding out hope of activation and ascension, the very first think you have to do is heal the damage that has been done (Sharp, 2013). If you don’t do that than for reasons explained throughout the Lightning Path body of work, higher levels of spiritual attainment will be difficult for you.
And healing is just the first, ongoing, step.
Following the healing process you have to take steps to ensure “it” (i.e. assault, violence, damage) never happens again. This is important for anybody who wants to live a healthy life, but it goes double for any serious student of spirituality. Your body is a temple for consciousness and if you don’t take care of that body and mind there is absolutely no way in heaven (or hell) you will ever be able to handle the awesome power and glory of your own higher consciousness. Ignore this advice if you want, huff and puff if that makes you feel better, but I’m telling you the Truth when is ay that if you don’t protect your body and mind then the most you will be able to do in your quest for authentic spirituality is maybe get a pre-emptive “glimpse” of what lies beyond, but even then the glimpse may be corrupted by the damage, or emotional difficulties may make further progress very difficult.
So, as always, the choice is yours. You can hold to the mistaken assumption that being spiritual means being vulnerable, soft, and exposed or you can take steps to shove off the crucifixion syndrome, heal the damage, and take steps to “prepare the way” for the descent of consciousness into the body. Of course, I won’t like to you, it is going to be hard. Choice one is easy and probably doesn’t require you to do anything differently than you have been doing all along, but choice two may require a fundamental revision of your ideas, your archetypes, yours ways of doing things, your work, your relationships, and so on. You’ll be turning reality “on its head” so to speak, and that’s never an easy thing to do. But, it has to be done. You either do that or you live out your days in the pathological dysfunction of your “normal” daily life.
I Am Michael Sharp
Annerbäck, E. M., Sahlqvist, L., Svedin, C. G., Wingren, G., & Gustafsson, P. A. (2012). Child physical abuse and concurrence of other types of child abuse in Sweden—Associations with health and risk behaviors. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(7–8), 585-595. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.05.006
Blain, L. M., Muench, F., Morgenstern, J., & Parsons, J. T. (2012). Exploring the role of child sexual abuse and posttraumatic stress disorder symptoms in gay and bisexual men reporting compulsive sexual behavior. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(5), 413-422. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.03.003
Burns, E. E., Fischer, S., Jackson, J. L., & Harding, H. G. (2012). Deficits in emotion regulation mediate the relationship between childhood abuse and later eating disorder symptoms. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(1), 32-39. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.08.005
Cuijpers, P., Smit, F., Unger, F., Stikkelbroek, Y., ten Have, M., & de Graaf, R. (2011). The disease burden of childhood adversities in adults: A population-based study. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(11), 937-945. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.06.005
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Eslick, G. D., Koloski, N. A., & Talley, N. J. (2011). Sexual, physical, verbal/emotional abuse and unexplained chest pain. Child Abuse & Neglect, 35(8), 601-605. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.04.007
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Heim, C., & Nemeroff, C. B. (1999). The role of childhood trauma in the neurobiology of mood and anxiety disorders: Preclinical and clinical studies. Biologial Psychiatry, 46(11), 1509-1522.
Hosang, G. M., Johnson, S. L., Kiecolt-Glaser, J., Di Gregorio, M. P., Lambert, D. R., Bechtel, M. A., . . . Glaser, R. (2013). Gender specific association of child abuse and adult cardiovascular disease in a sample of patients with Basal Cell Carcinoma. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(6), 374-379. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.09.018
Kendler, K. S., Kuhn, J. W., & Prescott, C. A. (2004). Childhood sexual abuse, stressful life events and risk for major depression in women. Psychological Medicine, 34(8), 1475-1482.
Liu, R. T., Jager-Hyman, S., Wagner, C. A., Alloy, L. B., & Gibb, B. E. (2012). Number of childhood abuse perpetrators and the occurrence of depressive episodes in adulthood. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(4), 323-332. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2011.11.007
Sharp, M. (2013). The Lightning Path Intermediate Level Book A – Foundations. St. Albert, Alberta: Lightning Path Press.[ http://www.lightningpath.org/product/lightning-path-intermediate-module-a/]
Strøm, I. F., Thoresen, S., Wentzel-Larsen, T., & Dyb, G. (2013). Violence, bullying and academic achievement: A study of 15-year-old adolescents and their school environment. Child Abuse & Neglect, 37(4), 243-251. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.10.010
Swannell, S., Martin, G., Page, A., Hasking, P., Hazell, P., Taylor, A., & Protani, M. (2012). Child maltreatment, subsequent non-suicidal self-injury and the mediating roles of dissociation, alexithymia and self-blame. Child Abuse & Neglect, 36(7–8), 572-584. doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chiabu.2012.05.005
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