Anger Touches Death


My nephew, Drew, committed suicide on December 15.

The pastor at his memorial (which happened yesterday) said this: “People who commit suicide think that they are putting an end to their pain. This is not true. They are simply passing that pain onto everyone they leave behind.”

Bingo.

Drew’s suicide touches everyone differently, and we all cycle through the typical stages of grief.

For me, there’s been a lot of anger, self-loathing, self-disgust and discontent. A clinician would, without doubt, say that the stage of depression has been reached. I, on the other hand, do not subscribe to the pathologization of the natural descent cycle — but I do see that a descent has occurred and I’m endeavoring to embrace it for all it’s worth.

The Buddha would say that this mess of reactivity is due to excessive identification with the body, and he would be correct.

I am still in the body, and unless I consciously attain “Right View,” I definitely identify my body as “me.”

The body is not only physical, but it is mental and emotional as well.

The emotions are what assail me now.

So, I turn to a pair of companions who bring comfort through thick and thin: astrology and the Bible.

What does astrology say?

Astrology says that transiting Mars, the Warrior, planet of anger and physical vitality, has been moving directly over Pluto, the Dark Mother, planet of death and transformation, in my natal chart.

Mars and Pluto happen to be ruling planets in my chart. This means that, whenever they are “lit up” by mutual connection, I am thrust into processes that go directly to the “core issues” in my life.

Astrology says that Mars conjoining Pluto guarantees at least a month’s worth of physical, mental and (especially) emotional INTENSITY — which, of course, exceeds the boundaries of rationality, descending my emotions into the deepest, darkest recesses of existence.

My experience of what Astrology says includes the above-mentioned anger, self-loathing, self-disgust and discontent. I’m sure there are other things going on in my chart (i.e., Jupiter squaring Nodes and Saturn in the 7th, Uranus opposing Moon, and Pluto continuing to square Moon) that contribute to the seeming bottomlessness of the descent I’m in… but, for whatever reason, I can’t seem to find the lower floor, and I’m getting a little desperate.

What does the Bible say?

Here’s where I was led:

Eph 4:29-32 Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

So… the remedy for my corrupt communication, my grieving of the Spirit of God, my bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, evil speaking and malice… is to forgive those who are on the receiving end of my projections, and to show tenderhearted kindness toward them — no matter how difficult it may be for me to get there from here.

Whew! Tall order!

And, yet… the forgiveness piece is something that’s worked wonders in my past… because, only through forgiving others am I able to receive forgiveness for my own loathsomeness.

Yes, I am inundated by explosive emotion right now.

I feel terrible about my reactivity and my frantic corruption of communication. I feel awful about ALL my shortcomings, the totality of which seems so obvious and exposed.

In this place, I can’t seem to get over the shortcomings I see in others — I want to blame them for the pain and suffering within me.

So… I forgive everyone who has ever “wronged” me — just as I forgive Drew for killing himself.

And… I pray that my own wrong-doing toward others is forgiven in kind.

* * *

Somewhere in all this grieving, there is a bottom floor.

May my feet touch down in that place as soon as possible.

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Signs and Symbols: A Doorway to the Holy Place

The question is, why consult signs and symbols when we are modern citizens of the Scientific Age?

What possible benefit could come from an examination of planetary positions at the moment and place of birth?

Did we not leave such superstitious ideas behind when Darwin and Descartes came along?

Granted, Carl G. Jung did much to restore interest in alchemy, astrology, Eastern traditions and the realm of the intuitive. He studied dreams in himself and thousands of clients over the years, and even sent his most challenging clients off to have a horoscope drawn up. He recognized through his theory of synchronicity that there is no such thing as randomness, that everything in this reality unfolds along archetypal lines, and that this unfoldment occurs according to alchemical cycles that appear to have been embedded in the collective unconscious of humanity. Jung was not afraid to look into the dark past for insights into psychological pathologies of modern existence – and what he found during this search was that the ancients were far better equipped to understand the workings of the mind and soul than are scientifically-conditioned “experts” of current times.

Jung paid a price for his rediscoveries, of course, in that his work was marginalized and discarded by the psychotherapeutic establishment, which retains a Freudian perspective to this very day.  So-called “Jungians” are typically regarded by the mainstream with a wink and a nod, at best.  Nevertheless, Jungian ideas have infiltrated the field of psychology in subtle (yet profound) ways, even as these ideas have done wonders in establishing astrology in the West.

Dane Rudhyar, whose work spanned the middle 50 years of the 20th century, crystallized Jung’s revolutionary perspective and combined it with the ancient art of astrology, publishing in 1936 one of the truly original – if nearly-unknown – works of psycho-spiritual synthesis ever produced: The Astrology of Personality. In this book (as well as in most of his writings), Rudhyar showed that astrology is not about predicting future events, but about bringing order out of chaos, giving the individual a roadmap for psychological unfoldment along organic and cyclical lines.

In my consultations, then, it is this ideal of “bringing order out of chaos” that informs the proceedings.

Through this “higher ordering,” something profound and mysterious occurs, and it is this deeper process that gives astrology its true value.

We spend so much of our lives “in the middle of it,” plugging away, often just surviving what seems like a random mess of external influences that push us here and there. We are conditioned, in fact, to believe that this is how life really occurs – that things just happen, and we should respond as best we can. The idea that life unfolds in cycles that may be interpreted through signs and symbols is not something to be taken seriously – so we just push ahead, doing what we can within our limited range of vision.

If nothing else, these past 18 years of working with astrology have shown me that life is not random, that it does unfold according to a collective framework that manifests cyclically, and that these cycles have been expressed through the signs and symbols of astrology for thousands of years.

Astrology puts the individual in touch with the collective, the micro with the macro, and it gives us the opportunity to avail ourselves of a collective perspective that is literally infinite in scope. It is like being put in a spaceship, flown way, way up into our local solar system – into the realm of the Archetypes – and given the opportunity to see life from the point-of-view of higher understanding. From this higher platform of knowledge, order is introduced into what the individual experiences as chaos.

While it’s true that, in identifying certain cycles running through the client’s chart, an occasional insight will arise that may be taken as a “prediction” for future events… what is actually happening is that the client and I are arriving at a synchronistic point of understanding. Together we “see” something clear and obvious, even though it may have been sitting on the client’s nose for years and years. This is an alchemical process, such that, when the two of us climb into the “alchemical crucible,” we have availed ourselves of a Mystery that expresses through signs and symbols. We have immersed ourselves, in fact, in a sea of signs and symbols, submitting to anciently-derived collective wisdom that comes to bear on the present moment.

As I explain this and describe that during a routine survey of astrological data springing forth from the chart, signs and symbols are transmuted into insights that trigger connections and associations within the client. These connections and associations then trigger a similar process within me. In short order, the client and I are seeing one another as an uncanny mirror, sharing in this deeply intimate moment a recognition of an otherwise unconscious human heritage.

There is something profoundly healing in the intimacy of this meeting, beyond even what the signs and symbols represent. It is as though the signs and symbols create a doorway to the holy place of awareness before we take birth, and in this holy place we find a spiritual connectedness that is independent of the form and drama of our current life. We have agreed to spend an hour or so in this place, suspending our conditioning and our beliefs about the should’s and shouldn’ts of life… and we make ourselves available to a wisdom that can’t be accessed in any other way.

Perhaps this description sounds forth as memory and resonance from beyond the chaos of your everyday life.

If so, perhaps the alchemical crucible may be calling you.

Why Meditate?


This past weekend I led meditation and did astrology readings for a Rocky Mountain Contemplative Writers retreat up near Granby, Colorado. This was my fifth or sixth retreat with my friend (Best Man in our wedding, actually), David Hicks, who handles the “writers” portion of the program. David has been incorporating bodywork into the retreats, as well, bringing his favorite massage therapist up the hill for the first day.

The idea is, I “crack ’em” with meditation and readings, David “scrambles ’em” with individual writing consultations, group writing prompts, communal dinners (everyone has to provide one meal throughout the long weekend) and a concerted effort to establish lasting bonds between retreatants, who must ultimately use their writing as a sort of “poor man’s therapy” to deal with what inevitably comes up during the proceedings. We encourage retreatants to “write the most difficult thing,” so you can imagine the stories having to do with cancer or other physical ailments, sexual abuse, death and random acts of violence. What you may not imagine is the power that comes through this writing. A common feedback we receive is that retreatants never knew they had it it ’em, and that it is such a surprise to realize that “this is how real writing feels.”

After everyone arrives on Thursday evening, settles into their rooms and puts on their night clothes, it’s my job to lead the first meditation session. I have a standard speech stating that, when the idea first came up for us to do these retreats, we thought it would be great to combine a writing retreat with a Theravada meditation retreat model — i.e., establishing Noble Silence from beginning to end, meditating upwards of five or six hours a day, no food after noon… the whole bit. “I figured we’d attract a bunch of meditators who happen to write,” I tell them. “Instead, I’ve come to realize that we’re getting writers who are open to the idea of a little meditation, so long as it doesn’t get in the way of writing.” Laughter and nods all around.

That being the case, I encourage everyone to be as relaxed as possible. They can try sitting in some variation of the lotus position, like me, or they can sit in a chair or couch, they can lay down flat, they can stand, do walking meditation, shift whenever a pain sets in — whatever they need to do in order to keep from dreading meditation. I ask that everyone keep a notebook beside them to capture writing ideas, bits of dialogue or whatever else that may pop up from the silence and seems right for their current work. We’ve gone from lots of meditation to a bare minimum: one hour at seven a.m. (instead of my preference of five a.m.), with a half-hour bell for those who can’t do a full hour; a half-hour at four in the afternoon, and a half-hour before bed. I make myself available for anyone who may want to sit longer or more frequently (never happens, but since I do it on my own, I may as well open it up to everyone), or who have questions regarding the nuts-and-bolts of meditation, or the specifics of what comes up for them during silence.

Finally, I utilize some hypnotherapy induction techniques (progressive relaxation, visualizations and prompts using present-tense “-ing” language) to guide retreatants into their sits, so that they’re not left to battle those initial moments in isolation.

It occurs to me now, a week after the retreat, that I missed an opportunity to go into the question, Why meditate?

I mean, beyond the obvious reasons — relaxation, sitting in silence as a group — what does meditation bring to a writer’s retreat? How does sitting still, bringing focus to the breath and dealing with random thoughts, feelings and insights help the writer write better?

I could probably come up with many, many benefits from meditation for the writer, but one stands out above all others, as far as I’m concerned.

There is a cumulative effect that becomes established after a couple days during these retreats, even with the minimal amount of sitting that we offer. This accumulation has the quality of saturation, or even absorption, as though meditation continues into the time between formal sits. Focus and concentration undergo a subtle shift, so that one becomes focused and concentrated, rather than having to work for it. There is an emotional rawness that develops, as well, such that those “difficult things” we’ve been avoiding as writers bubble up to the surface, as if they’ve just been waiting for the right circumstances in order to express. There is something about sitting in a group according to a firm schedule, entering the silence together and maintaining that space, that deepens our experience of life and brings greater meaning to everything we do, whether it be cooking a meal, walking through the woods or sitting down to work on a story.

By Sunday (which comes too quickly, alas) the environment is rich with emotion and artistic passion, even as friendship bonds have established a level of trust and safety unmatched at your typical writer’s retreat. Meditative saturation has taken hold, and for some of the retreatants this constitutes a “religious experience” they’ve never known — and we hear promises of continued meditation practices all around.

I hope that they follow through. I hope that they consider what happens in a little three-day retreat, and that they extrapolate these effects out over several years of thrice-daily sits. What would happen in their writing lives if they came into such a depth of saturation?

I could tell them, of course, but it’s much better to find out for oneself.

Rudhyar on Personhood, Schuon on the Underlying Unity

Dane Rudhyar filtered astrology through Jung’s archetypal and alchemical psychology, emerging with a vision of wholeness that’s never found a more effective expression.

From his final book, The Fullness of Human Experience:

What is to be meant by being a person? Why are human beings today determined to operate as autonomous individuals characteristically able to make responsible decisions? Another question inevitably follows: How does a person arrive at what he or she considers a valid basis for the decision? This basis evidently depends on the particular nature of the choice being made; yet, whether or not the person realizes it, any decision implies the acceptance of an approach to life and the meaning of existence which has metaphysical and/or religious roots.

Most religions or spiritual philosophies assume as an incontrovertible fact of inner experiences (particularly in states of intense meditation or ecstasy) that human persons are essentially spiritual entities (Souls or Monads) that, having emerged from “the One” (God or the Absolute), return to their source after a long and dangerous “pilgrimage” through a series of material states. Individuality, and therefore a state of at least relative separateness which allows for basic differences in beingness, are the essential factors in the human condition.

I would add that it is this “state of at least relative separateness” that is at the root of our 21st Century existential crisis — which is why a revival of Religio Perennis is essential to both the survival and wellbeing of the human species on planet Earth.

Why?

Because, without a metaphysical structure, we are left without a context through which this material reality may gain meaning. And without meaning, what’s the point in living?

It is this dirth of meaning that ends up pitting humans against humans, each projecting suffering onto the other, mindless of their essential unity.

On the other hand, with metaphysical meaning comes a recognition of our brotherhood and sisterhood — our collective status as children of The One — and it is this recognition that invites heaven on earth.

From Frithjof Schuon’s definition (.pdf) of Religio Perennis:

One of the keys to understanding our true nature and our ultimate destiny is the fact that the things of this world are never proportionate to the actual range of our intelligence. Our intelligence is made for the Absolute, or else it is nothing; among all the intelligences of this world the human spirit alone is capable of objectivity, and this implies—or proves—that the Absolute alone confers on our intelligence the power to accomplish to the full what it can accomplish and to be wholly what it is. If it were necessary or useful to prove the Absolute, the objective and trans-personal character of the human Intellect would be a sufficient testimony, for this Intellect is the indisputable sign of a purely spiritual first Cause, a Unity infinitely central but containing all things, an Essence at once immanent and transcendent. It has been said more than once that total Truth is inscribed in an eternal script in the very substance of our spirit; what the different Revelations do is to “crystallize” and “actualize”, in different degrees according to the case, a nucleus of certitudes that not only abides forever in the divine Omniscience, but also sleeps by refraction in the “naturally supernatural” kernel of the individual, as well as in that of each ethnic or historical collectivity or the human species as a whole.

(…) The essential function of human intelligence is discernment between the Real and the illusory or between the Permanent and the impermanent, and the essential function of the will is attachment to the Permanent or the Real. This discernment and this attachment are the quintessence of all spirituality; carried to their highest level or reduced to their purest substance, they constitute the underlying universality in every great spiritual patrimony of humanity, or what may be called the religio perennis; this is the religion to which the sages adhere, one which is always and necessarily founded upon formal elements of divine institution.

(…) A civilization is integral and healthy to the extent it is founded on the “invisible” or “underlying” religion, the religio perennis, that is, to the extent its expressions or forms are transparent to the Non-Formal and tend toward the Origin, thus conveying the recollection of a Lost Paradise, but also—and with all the more reason—the presentiment of a timeless Beatitude. For the Origin is at once within us and before us; time is but a spiral movement around a motionless Center.

This last line says it all.

It is something toward which our species once aspired — our fallible, frail species — and with any luck, it’s an aspiration we’ll discover once again.

Soon, before it’s too late.

Spiritualized

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C.G. Jung, winding down the years….

Regular commenter Hawk recently brought up a subject worthy of its own post:

I just was reading pages 275 – 288 in C.G. Jung’s Memories, Dreams, Reflections, and found his comparisons of Indian thought and Christianity very interesting. If you have any reactions or thoughts regarding Jung’s insights here, it would be helpful in my own process.

Little did I know the intensity of what would follow, as I began to read this passage from Jung’s autobiography (easily one of the twelve most influential books I’ve ever read, and one of the few to which I return periodically), which has led into several Internet as well as personal conversations, not to mention a synchronistic series of written teachings from varied sources. Let me provide one slice from Jung, quoting from page 277:

In Konarak (Orissa) I met a pandit who obligingly offered to come with me on my visit to the temple and the great temple car. The pagoda is covered from base to pinnacle with exquisitely obscene sculptures. We talked for a long time about this extraordinary fact, which he explained to me as a means to achieve spiritualization. I objected — pointing to a group of young peasants who were standing open-mouthed before the monument, admiring these splendors — that such young men were scarcely undergoing spiritualization at the moment, but were much more likely having their heads filled with sexual fantasies. Whereupon he replied, “But that is just the point. How can they ever become spiritualized if they do not first fulfill their karma? These admittedly obscene images are here for the very purpose of recalling to the people their dharma [law]; otherwise these unconscious fellows might forget it.”

I thought it an odd notion that young men might forget their sexuality, like animals out of rutting time. My sage, however, resolutely maintained that they were as unconscious as animals and actually in need of urgent admonishments. To this end, he said, before they set foot inside the temple they were reminded of their dharma by the exterior decorations; for unless they were made conscious of their dharma and fulfilled it, they could not partake of spiritualization.

This brings to mind the concept of the Fool’s Journey, which comes from Tarot lore and embodies the idea of the Fool card, which is said to depict all 22 major arcana cards in the life-journey that they represent. In other words, the Fool starts at zero (the number of his card), heads out through 21 stages of archetypal growth, only to return to zero. Those 21 stages of archetypal growth include such images as the Devil, the Lovers and Death, each of which has something to say about the need to pass through the fleshly experience of existence, complete with its erroneous beliefs and its misguided passions, until our karma is played out and we return to the spiritual recognition of our Divine essence (the Universe or World card, number 21, which stands for the panentheistic notion of God in everything, everything in God).

So, in order to pass through the doors to the Holy Sanctuary, one must pass through fleshly existence and all that it entails.

This brought to mind a prominent feature of my own spiritual biography, which I’ll reproduce here:

During spring of 1967, before my fifth birthday, I passed through a phase that lasted about three weeks, during which I sat cross-legged on my bed, facing west through a window that looked out on our back yard. Through what little Bible study I’d managed to accrue, I had formed an intimate bond with Jesus, considering him to be physically present not only when I prayed, but as I went through daily life. We would hold long conversations, walking side-by-side like best friends who’d known each other for two thousand years.

Jesus was present as I sat on my bed one morning. An energy grew inside my little body, filling it with bliss and happiness. Somehow, I knew just how to work with the energy, until “I” outgrew the house, the neighborhood, the city, state, continentÉ the planet. Then I popped out of the physical dimension completely, and was met by several presences that felt like “home,” who nonverbally “reminded” me of many things I’d known before this birth. It felt like I was being infused with sacred information, “catching up” on something that I’d worked long and hard to obtain. I moved in and out of these vibrational states every day during this time. Familiar beings accompanied me on these inner flights, like a family that had sent me into human form for some collective purpose; I was “reporting” back to them, and they were filling me in on my mission objectives, as well as teaching me what I would need to know during an arduous stay in this world. The experience was one of becoming reacquainted with that part of me that extends backwards and forwards through time, such that I merely had to acknowledge what I already knew. The specific information that emerged did not remain in my conscious mind for long, however, as I was a four-year-old boy who did not normally have the language to process these things.

Once, my mother burst into the room and saw me sitting there – I could see her clearly with non-physical eyes – and she quietly backed out, clicking the door closed. She never mentioned this or any of the other episodes to me.

As the final session drew to a close, the presences who’d supported this process gave me a little mantra that I could say at any time during the ensuing years, which would give a hint of remembrance to the states that I’d experienced. The mantra, “I Am Me,” looks innocuous enough now, but at the time, it triggered something deep and primordial, not to mention fascinating. I would ponder the “I” by itself, then the “Am,” then the “Me,” noticing that each could be experienced separately and as a single presence, such that I “traveled” in and out of individual awareness as if hitting a light switch. I knew that I was being acclimated to individual identity, but the mantra allowed me to access the unitive presence whenever I wanted throughout the “barren” years that would follow these experiences.

They (the guiding presences) suggested that they would leave me to a worldly existence for about 30 years before rejoining my spiritual emergence. During precisely 30 years without ready access to the energy that visited me in those early days, I would periodically recite my mantra in order to briefly experience sensations that bridged across many, many lifetimes, and in this way I could let go existential anxieties that may have inhibited the process that would greet me when those 30 years passed.

Those 30 years “in the desert” fulfilled many of the Fool’s Journey requisites, as depicted in the major arcana cards. I’m talking about what we all go through in our own way: coming of age, leaving the nest, getting into all sorts of trouble, getting out of all sorts of trouble (hopefully), developing all sorts of self-destructive beliefs and behaviors, dealing with them, replacing them with either different forms of the same, or brand new, more constructive beliefs and behaviors that lead toward wholeness, healing and, ultimately, reunion with the Divine.

So my wife and I spent this morning having “church” in the living room. We fired up some matte, slathered butter and jelly onto some toast, and sat down at our Japanese table under the picture window — gentle rain outside, pattering the roof — and I opened the Bible to Ecclesiastes, planning to look up in Charles Fillmores Metaphysical Bible Dictionary terms that we encountered in this most poetic and achingly anguished Old Testament book. Here’s an example, taken from Chapter Two, verses 17-26 (TNIV version):

17 So I hated life, because the work that is done under the sun was grievous to me. All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. 18 I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. 19 And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun. This too is meaningless. 20 So my heart began to despair over all my toilsome labor under the sun. 21 For people may labor with wisdom, knowledge and skill, and then they must leave all they own to others who have not toiled for it. This too is meaningless and a great misfortune. 22 What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? 23 All their days their work is grief and pain; even at night their minds do not rest. This too is meaningless.

24 People can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? 26 To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.

While I don’t have the Bible Dictionary with me here at the coffee shop, I can put into my own words the metaphysical meaning that Fillmore attributed to Ecclesiastes:

Ecclesiastes means (metaphysically, according to Fillmore) “experience,” which (in my words) is the working out of karma that we must accomplish before becoming “spiritualized.” Fillmore says that experience is by far the best sermon, because we cannot just fall asleep in the pew while the preacher drones on (sorry, Hawk!), but must “face the music” that life’s ups and downs dish up. Eventually, experience leads us into the Dark Night of the Soul that the author of Ecclesiastes seems to have reached — and which St. John of the Cross so beautifully described while shivering in a Carmelite dungeon oh so many years ago. Fillmore says that worldly experience is what leads us home to the remembrance of God, and to the extent that we are able to merge our seemingly separate existence with the ever-Presence of God, we may eventually transcend the pain and suffering (see Ecclesiastes above) associated with attachment to worldly things, and know that we are One with the Source of all Good.

To bring things absolutely full circle in terms of my current unfoldment, I now know from experience what the Buddha meant in the last of his Noble Eightfold Path (Right Absorption), which was/is his “middle path” away from the realm of suffering and into the extinguishment of worldly attachment: each stage of meditative absorption (jhana/samadhi) brings the meditator into greater and greater at-one-ment with the Universal I AM (my words, stolen from many great mystics)… and the absorption itself melts away our illusory attachment to gaining succor from worldly things and conditions. In other words, he/she who works with meditative absorption works with God’s transformative Presence to gradually eliminate “wrong view,” replacing it with a saturation in “right view,” which is to live life in communion with the Infinite.

That’s my take, and apologies to everyone for hitting you with such a long, involved, meandering post.

I am, on the other hand, anxious to get Hawk’s take on the Jung material exampled above….

No Surprise Here

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This is something the New Thought folks have been saying for years:

Spirituality increases as alcoholics recover

For decades, recovering alcoholics and those who treat them have incorporated spirituality into the recovery process — whether or not it’s religious in nature. But few research studies have documented if and how spirituality changes during recovery, nor how those changes might influence a person’s chance of succeeding in the quest for sobriety.

Now, a new study from researchers at the University of Michigan Addiction Research Center sheds light on this phenomenon. In the March issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, they show that many measures of spirituality tend to increase during alcohol recovery. They also demonstrate that those who experience increases in day-to-day spiritual experiences and their sense of purpose in life are most likely to be free of heavy drinking episodes six months later.

“While people’s actual beliefs don’t seem to change during recovery, the extent they have spiritual experiences, and are open to spirituality in their lives, does change,” says lead researcher Elizabeth A.R. Robinson, Ph.D., a research assistant professor in the U-M Medical School’s Department of Psychiatry and member of UMARC.. “This effect was also independent of their participation in Alcoholics Anonymous which has a strong spiritual aspect.”

The researchers report data from 154 adults with a diagnosis of alcohol dependence or alcohol abuse who entered an outpatient treatment program.

One may also say that “recovery from alcoholism accelerates as spirituality increases.”

Though I do not consider myself to have an addictive personality, I definitely have a history of drug and alcohol use. Looking back, I understand that I was attempting to “fill the void” deep down inside — a void that, according to my current understanding, can only be truly and permanently filled through spiritual realization.

I used to say that I had better spiritual experiences sitting on a bar stool than I ever did on a church pew — but now I know that a meditation cushion beats them all.

The Path Beneath Our Feet

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To be honest, I’ve not read any of Eva Pierrakos’ books, but when I worked at a metaphysical bookstore during the 90’s and early 00’s, several of my favorite customers swore by her stuff. Stumbling around the Internet just now, I found that the complete Pathwork lectures are now available in .pdf format, and thought I’d forward the info here.

What is Pathwork? Read on:

We all yearn for deeper, more loving relationships, and we all want more physical pleasure, vitality, and abundance. Ultimately, we want a sense of purpose for our lives that only comes with intimate contact with God. The Pathwork is a collection of teachings that helps us see and understand ourselves, enabling us to gradually remove the obstacles that keep us separate from others, separate from the source of our creativity and life energy, from our divine core.

The Pathwork is a spiritual path of self-purification and self-transformation on all levels of consciousness. It emphasizes the importance of recognizing, accepting, learning to know and ultimately transforming our Lower Self or shadow side of our nature. Pathwork helps us understand that through honest self-examination, with carefully applied tools and practices, we can overcome and remove the inner obstacles that keep us from living fully from and in our Godself, our true nature.

The Pathwork is not dogmatic. It has no required belief system and does not ask that we abandon religious practices or beliefs that nurture and support us. It does ask us to be willing to examine our beliefs, and to accept the ultimate authority of the true Self. Pathwork also encourages us to develop a healthy, mature ego. For it is only when the ego is strengthened, and purified of its misconceptions about life and its own task, that it can look beyond itself and recognize that it is only a part-albeit a vital part-of our greater self. By using the ego to transcend itself, we are afforded a way to become fully and consciously who we are: our Real Self, our Godself.

If any of you have experience with Pathworking, please give us a report in comments!