These papers were written between 2018 & 2021 and are part of my doctorate requirements for Ubiquity University and Thomas Hübl’s Academy of Inner Science. They appear in the following order:
- Befriending Trauma: A Timeless Heart Coherence
- Greening Moon-Coherence in a Sun-Seared World
- Tasting the embodied Faith of the Miraculous while Living in a World of Shadow
- The Timeless Beauty of the Mystic Heart: A Fiery Refuge in Times of Spiritual Anemia
- A Divine Download: When God Claims the Inner-Throne.
Befriending Trauma: A Timeless Heart Coherence
The 2020 title for Ubiquity University’s Liberal Arts course—Grammatica, is concise and straightforward: From Trauma to Transformation. The fundamental questions posed in the course address this pivotal moment in our human story: What “word” best describes the pervasive phenomenon in our contemporary world, and what is the most effective way to bring healing and wholeness to our lives? Learning to understand (stand under) the ubiquitous complexity of the trauma landscape is daunting. For generations, we have been unable to presence our trauma-saturated collective. Yet throughout history, there have been pioneers of consciousness who sit within the spaciousness of a timeless heart coherence. Their lives and messages of unity point towards new human potential beyond habits of trauma fragmentation.
From Trauma to Transformation: In writing this paper, I found myself preferring the word “befriend” to “transform.” As Grammatica is about naming, I felt this shift was relevant. “Befriend” feels soft and kind and has an engaged relational quality. Transformation, on the other hand, is a tricky word; in part, because it has been co-opted into the fast-food materialism of western spirituality. Similar to transcendence, transformation is embedded in lofty ideas of spiritual achievement over relationship. As western materialists, we are so easily consumed by the desire to fix or achieve. Goals are not inherently wrong, but a goal-oriented spirituality precludes the relational capacities of our timeless heart.
Befriending implies the primacy of relationship. When informed by the timeless heart of the soul, ideas of spiritual goals relax. Relational availability is the ground-level practice for timeless heart coherence. Connecting through vulnerability and presence is a paradoxical yet profound healing for our trauma wounds. As hardened tissues of collective and intergenerational trauma soften, we begin to experience ourselves and life in a more friendly, engaged way. Rediscovering the benevolent connectivity of the soul is not so much a goal, as an embodied capacity to befriend life as it is. The subtle movement of the timeless heart informing and enlivening our nervous system, heart, and mind, is a natural consequence of trauma befriending.
Befriending Trauma: A Timeless Heart Coherence
Perceiving spiritual goals as outside of ourselves is a trauma symptom. Complex and multigenerational, our collective psyches are conditioned to live on top of trauma. Unnamed, unfelt, and finally mute, unintegrated trauma forms the increasingly dark underbelly of our collective. Why is this? Why can’t we just “get along” and enjoy this beautiful blue-green planet together? The answer is simple: unacknowledged and unintegrated trauma does not simply disappear; it compounds and festers in the collective through the generations and makes it difficult to “get along.” Trauma’s disruptive symptoms are not random or inexplicable.
Similar to any authentic relationship, befriending begins with a willingness to see and feel our experience. With a supportive group or individual, we might begin to explore trauma’s landscape within our family and culture and how that imprints our own heart, mind, and nervous system. Being able to stay with the feelings of trauma’s trapped pain has the paradoxical effect of allowing more space and light into our life. As the late Canadian singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen reminds us: “Ring the bells that still can ring. Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in” (1992, Anthem).
Skilled trauma-informed facilitation reveals that our pain and our soul are in dynamic relationship—not separated as traumatized thinking would have us believe. There is nothing to “get away from” or escape because when we are supported to experience our pain, it becomes a vulnerable call or prayer that draws the spaciousness of the soul closer. Trauma heals in a way that gives us a sense of peace within our pain, not an escape from it. Our collective and individual soul-wounding is due primarily to our disconnection from both our traumatized bodies and from the timelessness of the soul. Embodied spirituality is the practice of a connected nervous system awareness with both.
Habits of projection fuel trauma’s divisive spell; whether directed at a partner, family, leader, group, or nation, disowned trauma creates entangled webs of blame. Befriending trauma becomes a choice only when we become curious enough to stop blaming others, connect inwardly, and learn to presence trauma through inner stillness and listening. For several years, my silence practice facilitation was founded upon an inner attunement that allowed the nervous system to adjust to more spaciousness. Through collective spacious presence, we discover that our heart and nervous system are both spiritually resourced and trauma-entangled. We are simultaneously a light being and a traumatized human with a wounded (disconnected) soul. How could we be otherwise?
Although not the focus of this paper, it is encouraging to know that scientists are verifying the trans-generational (epigenetic) trauma stored in our nervous systems. The brain’s limbic system (or hindbrain) also reinforces our survival instincts’ primordial flight/fight/freeze functions. While the limbic system influence builds a world focused on pain and the avoidance of pain, the neocortex (or forebrain) influences our creativity and connective heart intelligence. The limbic system reacts, and the neocortex responds. Our trauma-afflicted collective lens recycles feelings of separation, scarcity, and fear, becoming the primary operating system of unintegrated trauma in our nervous system. Even our desire to fix trauma originates from this operating system.
Our most inaccessible and unconscious trauma wounds often occur in childhood, where our emotional need for safety was unmet. Spiritual teacher and collective trauma expert Thomas Hübl claims that we pulled away from life in these moments in order to stay safe (TWT2US). This is key to understanding the nature of trauma as a contraction away from life. Studying with Hübl for the past six years has led me to the life-expanding conviction that befriending trauma is an embodied spiritual practice that restores our relationship with life. Hübl’s ability to bring a meditative presence into the fragmented relational fields we “take for normal” is life-changing.
While walking through minefields of collective and personal trauma, Hübl’s relational heart coherence remains grounded in timelessness. While trauma is increasingly named in therapeutic and even spiritual circles, few teachers walk their talk with as much integrity and spiritual depth. Hübl carries a palpable transmission of divine intelligence and an unwavering invitation to stay present for, and with, our trauma-entangled habits. With increasing opportunities to be trauma-informed, I see hopeful signs that—despite its fierce grip—trauma need not have the final word.
Radical Grace: Collaborative Group Healing
The restless nature of unexamined trauma will always attempt to “fix” rather than “relate.” As a consequence, befriending trauma is an intimate process requiring relational support and lots of practice. Whether that presence comes from an inner capacity or “borrowed” from a therapist, group, or facilitator, the capacity to presence trauma symptoms is an engaged capacity of the heart. Presence is an expanded consciousness that feels more like entering a state of Grace than a personal “doing.”
The coherence within collaborative groups ignites new potential living within each of us. As Hübl says, we offer an audacious and exhilarating new world when old structures are dismantled as enough people are willing and ready to receive the energy of a dawning age (2020, p. 215). Receiving Grace is radical because it is not bound by conditioned structures and is freely given. We need do nothing but listen and receive. In so doing, we become collaborative pioneers of a vital and bold new reality. Based in a coherence beyond time, we collaborate in bringing in new structures of awareness and relationship capacities we didn’t know we had. We discover together that we have everything we need to heal trauma and more.
Conscious embodiment of trauma symptoms opens space for new relationship capacities that feel sacred, transpersonal, and effortlessly collaborative. Trauma patterns begin to unwind as the nervous system and trauma-bound heart are held within a non-blaming transpersonal spaciousness. When welcomed consciously in the nervous system, trauma symptoms feel more flowing and less stuck. Experiencing that we are not separate from the movement of life is the beginning of life’s mystery moving through us—quite literally “using us” in ways we could not have imagined. Thirteenth/fourteenth-century mystic and theologian Meister Eckhart phrased this phenomenon succinctly, “When the higher incorporates the lower into its service, the nature of the lower is transformed into that of the higher” (https://onejourney.net/meister-eckhart-quotes/).
Why Grace?: A Short Bio
When I am experiencing trauma symptoms, I simultaneously experience the soul-wound of separation: from myself, from others, and from the experience of life in this moment. As an inherently social species, we tend to hide our feelings of separation behind layers of shame. In early adulthood, I felt so desynchronized with the world that I felt like a missing person in my own body—going through the motions but hiding deep shame about not feeling that I belonged.
My bleak inner-trauma landscape contrasted sharply with the “happy family” image of my growing up years. When I finally left home, I felt a crushing burden that I could neither understand nor forgive myself for. My narrative is not unusual for children born in the 1950s: I grew up with a mother I mothered, an inconsistent rageaholic father, a bullied Asperger-syndrome older brother I tried to protect, and a sister they said was my baby when I was four years of age.
Whether because of or despite these circumstances, I was also prone to profound moments of inner-stillness and beauty. Initially, these occurred in nature, but when introduced to Christian gospels at age twelve, my nightly solo-reading also yielded experiences of profound mystical beauty coursing through my nervous system. For almost three years, this timeless (and timely) soul-encounter sustained my heart and soul through the intense overwhelm of my family life. The timeless experience of belonging in God is such an intimate fabric of life that the very structure of our nervous system could never be separate from it. American spiritual teacher Gangaji says it this way:
The whole world is searching for release from the experience of separation. The worldly search is in reaching for more to acquire and accumulate. Finally through Grace, your search has pointed you back into … directly meeting that which is most feared, most dreaded, there is the realization of Home (1995, p. 95).
Sanghas of Timeless Heart Coherence
Experiencing life from within the home of our timeless heart is both a refuge from trauma conditioning and an opening for more coherent attunement. As Robert Browning of the HeartMath Institute says, the world’s trauma calls us from trauma to more coherence (2020, Grammatica). For example, in the crisis of the Covid pandemic, more people are waking up to creative possibilities for which they previously had no space, time, or inclination. When disconnection and fear are grounded in the deep safety of a coherent group, our nervous systems begin to regulate more coherently in response. Hübl refers to these communities of practitioners as “sanghas of transmission” (2021, Mystic Cafe). When starved of coherent regulation, trauma continues to live in our nervous system and culture as recurring physical/emotional/psychological/spiritual symptoms. If we fail to recognize the signs of trauma and include them in our awareness, we are doomed to repeat them and pass them along to the next generation.
Trauma symptoms need to be brought into relationship without the reactivity of needing to fix them. Often this requires the external support of a coherent facilitator or therapist. Befriending builds bridges through exploring the truth of our trauma wounds. Without the need to manage trauma symptoms in my relationships, my nervous system is more on-line for new structures of belonging. Energy moves more freely when defence and resistance are owned and acknowledged. Eventually, that which felt foreign, challenging, and hard can be included. Hübl describes it this way:
The phenomenon of numbness, the ability to switch off and dissociate feelings when encountering overload, is central to the trauma process…and plays a role in human development. Numbness is not nothing. Numbness is an active process of not feeling…[and] takes energy. It’s a doing, it’s not a being. That’s not our natural state. Our natural state is to be connected to life, feeling and sensing is our natural state…So when I stay with not feeling and…become one with the process of numbing, I bring light into that part of my body (2021, Hübl, PCTH online course).
On the question of how to bridge our trauma conditioning with awareness, Gangaji comments similarly:
Egoic habits of mind have been passed from generation to generation for millions of years. Strategies of escape or defence nourish the momentum of conditioned existence. In the willingness to experience what has not been experienced, the course of all internal and external phenomena is revealed, and the momentum of conditioning is stopped…Every emotion, sensation, or energy faced purely and simply reveals eternal Self.
Inner-Stillness and Soul
Facilitating practices of silence and inner-stillness activates the transpersonal dimension of soul belonging. Rather than trying to fix anything, the nervous system begins to relax as we learn to trust life as it is. Trauma triggers that we previously tried to control or manage become befriending bridges for relating to life more fully. A recent sound healing client reflected quietly after her session, “I guess I am in it for the long haul; there is no escaping.” She spoke these words softly, and I could sense that she was now relating to her trauma instead of trying to run away from it. The sounds helped her to experience presence and stillness of a timeless connection with life.
To be in touch with our natural state of being, rather than doing in order to “be,” requires that we slow down in order to feel. Through feeling, we also discover an innate inner-stillness that is not traumatized. Paradoxically, as I choose to move towards trauma, I begin to experience the soul’s timelessness. Inner-stillness is a powerful practice that attunes us to the divine nature of our soul and creates room for reflection, digestion, and integration. Combining the mystical path of meditation with trauma integration is a recent concept and an even more recent practice. Challenging the very core of traditional spiritual practices of retreating to attain, we discover a dynamic heart capacity when inner-stillness hosts trauma.
When inner-stillness hosts trauma, a mystical alliance begins to emerge between our soul’s becoming and our authentic belonging in the world. As our spiritual practice becomes more trauma-curious, our capacity for inner stillness and awareness also expands. As personal and ancestral trauma triggers are recognized and experienced in our nervous system, our interior contact expands. As Hübl says:
Let’s say, the main element of every spiritual tradition is our connection to the Divine … but it is also turning the subject of our current perspective, into an object within our awareness. So, what does that mean? The parts of Thomas that I am identified with are my subject, that’s what I am looking through every day. This can be my thought processes, my emotional experience, my physical experience. Later on in the spiritual unfolding, it can be the whole world of energy and subtle information, and also subtle stillness layers like spaciousness. (PCTH, 2021).
Heart Coherence and Trauma-Befriending Facilitation
If we have not yet developed a strong capacity for inner-stillness, the support of a competent facilitator and group energy field is highly valuable—even essential. Hübl says that where there is more base and safety in the group, an archetypal power creates a deep digestion process (Grammatica, 2020). Trauma-befriending facilitators are grounded in inner-stillness and relationally coherent. In my eight years of inner stillness facilitation and practice and six years of deepening my trauma understanding with Hübl, new heart-capacities have emerged within me and my leadership capacity. I am not alone. The Academy of Inner Science (AIS, founded by Hübl) doctorate cohort consists of “consciousness pioneers” who lead from attuning to an inner-unfolding of a not-yet-visible potential. Teachers, leaders, authors, and innovators are showing up increasingly in almost every discipline of human culture.
A personal example is my eight years of silence practice facilitation morphing into group inner constellation (ICM) facilitation and sound healing in May 2018, shortly after beginning the timeless wisdom training (TWT2US) with Hübl. Overnight, I became a facilitator for something I had never heard of before, and in which I had no formal training. Hübl has referenced “four-dimensional” (4D) facilitation as an inner competence that exists but may have little to do with training (2020, Ph.D. Collegium). He also describes 4D facilitation as appearing easy because it is in flow with an organic process (2020, Ph.D. Collegium). I have experienced ICM facilitation as playfully creative at times, although it feels held within a dependable and evolving energy field. With both the ICM and sound healing groups, I feel a relaxed attentiveness in my nervous system where I am part of a larger flow process, rather than “doing” the facilitating.
Trauma-befriending is a challenging practice because we need to feel the vulnerable places where we have been wounded in relationship. We have learned to equate vulnerability with weakness, and defence and shame protect us from feeling the gifts of vulnerability. Feeling our vulnerability and being seen and felt restores relationship to the original trauma wound. Hübl says that when our sphere of autonomy is hurt, other people become a threat, so we can feel much safer when we are in the autonomy of our individual creative process (PCTH, 2021). Driving the passion behind my doctoral studies is the healing potential I have experienced within coherent groups where connection to “what is” is primary. I do not doubt that our heart’s compassion expands as relational awareness meets trauma. I expressed it this way in this Spring’s blog post:
A better future calls us home to our “now”; a future of spiritual embodiment where good, kind, whole and connected become the norm. It will take groups of like-minded/hearted people to land the beauty of our inner-spring. Just two letters rearranged, and we move from “scared” to “sacred.” In that vital relational movement to see and feel, the world becomes a brighter more friendly place. We touch life and each other differently when trauma has been included and befriended. Experiencing ourselves and others more authentically reveals the beauty of our soul (http://lauramadsen.ca/2021/03/an-inner-spring/).
In his latest book, Becoming Supernatural: How Common People Are Doing the Uncommon, Joe Dispenza states that he “has laboured for many years teaching [his] students how to get beyond themselves” (2017, p. 248). Once this is mastered, he says, the unified field can be experienced because new synaptic connections allow for experiences that “transcend time.” (2017, p. 248). Using wine-tasting as a simple example, Dispenza demonstrates how awareness changes experience. Through focused learning and experiencing (i.e., tasting the wine), new neural connections form, which allow for more appreciation, awareness, and understanding of wine (2017, p. 249). His entire book illustrates this basic practice of aligning our awareness with timeless neural connections again and again.
A coherent field also includes the movement of relationship between the earth and cosmos, where the body and the group field become both subject and container. Like the mystery of Indra’s net, we are connected jewels held within a palpable divine force of possibility and evolution. Diane Hamilton refers to this kind of practice as “an art form” where practice happens through the body, heart, and mind (Radio Evolve, 2021). Embodied practices are essential for building coherent containers that calm and regulate our traumatized nervous systems.
The Vitality of Naming
Abracadabra means “I create as I speak.” As I read these words in the Grammatica course chat, I realized that naming is that powerful and significant. Naming can “in-form” and bring the invisible and repressed into the light of consciousness. Scriptural verse and mystical prose are vertically aligned words whose transmission can awaken the divine-indwelling. As Saint John of the Cross said, “They can be like a sun, words. They can do for the heart what light can for a field” (goodreads.com). As embodied beings, we feel words: they shape us and inform our collective and individual reality.
Structures of social meaning are created with words that connect us to the life around us. Naming is also vital for parents, family, and community when a child is born, often bridging the child to the ancestral continuum. Traditionally, oral traditions wove their community stories through ritual, dance, art, and mythology. A timeless awareness awakens in our nervous system when we know our place as part of a timeless flow. These stories inform deeper aspects of our nervous system that have never forgotten their sacred intimacy with life. As Martin Heidegger says, “Man acts as though he were the shaper and master of language, while in fact language remains the master of man” (brainyquote.com).
Naming also grounds our relational belonging. The more vertically informed our horizontal naming is, the more heart coherence is available in life. With practice, co-regulation becomes a visible structure in culture and a new way of naming through teaching, writing, therapy, art, music, or new group formations. Hübl suggests that what began as an idea or download becomes a structure in society (TWT2US). New structures are founded upon insights that spark new potential within all disciplines. The following quotes name potential ways of relating to the dark, hidden, and odious nature of unintegrated trauma.
- “One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” C.G. Jung, psychologist.
- “It is by going down into the abyss that we recover the treasure of life. Where you stumble, there lies your treasure” Joseph Campbell, mythologist.
- “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that” Martin Luther King, political leader/activist.
- “Matter is spirit moving slowly enough to be seen” Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, French Jesuit/scientist/philosopher (https://www.goodreads.com).
Naming Trauma Symptoms
Trauma is far more complex, insidious, and vast than the “deeply distressing or disturbing experience” described in the dictionary. This limited definition reflects our inability to name something that which we do not even see, let alone understand. Trauma addiction expert Gabor Maté describes trauma as an unhealed wound that hurts when it is touched (Grammatica, 2020). He says that due to the hardening of trauma’s scar tissue, a trauma wound essentially disconnects us from ourselves (Grammatica, 2020). While trauma symptoms and their causes vary between individuals and cultures, disconnection from ourselves and from life forms the ontological root of trauma.
Turning towards trauma is culturally counter-intuitive. Precisely naming the trauma-elephants in our cultures requires a willingness to feel previously forbidden/numb trauma-layers. Normally relegated to the exiled parts of our psyches, incorporating trauma’s activation and numbness into awareness immediately brings in a different quality of relationship. Learning to attune and regulate our body’s awareness with trauma is a thawing process that brings presence, depth, and spaciousness. The stronger the trauma charge, the slower and more still we become. In the Principles of Collective Trauma Healing course (PCTH), Thomas completely stopped (no facial movement, words, or gestures) when met by a participant’s strong trauma symptom. Trauma symptoms cannot be pushed. Their contracted nature exists because they have already been pushed beyond capacity. Spacious depth allows us to slow down and acknowledge what we feel by naming it.
Heart Ambassadors co-founders Robert Browning and Sheva Carr shared that access to our feelings is a collective experience that creates a platform where feelings need not be hidden (Grammatica, 2020). Browning reminds us that emotions are just energies, and learning how they are organized is like learning a new language: “once we know it is there, we have leverage to transform it” he says (Grammatica, 2020). In much the same way, being trauma-informed offers intimate encounters with centuries of unconscious trauma-layers.
Slowing down to reorient our relationship to trauma goes against our conditioned life habits. Unacknowledged trauma symptoms are repetitive, growing with each passing generation. They manifest as cycles of abuse and exploitation through systemic racism, child abuse, addiction, colonization, marital violence, etcetera. A trauma-denying world is not a friendly world. It is a deeply unconscious world and hostile to change. Increasing levels of fragmentation and polarization are the result. As Ubiquity University’s president Jim Garrison says:
Our generation is carrying the trans-generational trauma of colonialism and imperialism; four hundred years of exploitation. That is why it feels like the world is at a breaking point. We either break down or we break-through (Grammatica 2020).
We have normalized living in the hardness of a “trauma-denying” culture. As long as trauma symptoms remain unnamed (i.e., unconscious), we will continue creating a world of disconnection and fragmentation. A life of trauma denial is stuck on repeat. Comparing our trauma to a software program, Hamilton says that we habitually deny trauma with the identified mind and with the nervous system that is conditioned within the mind’s social-political structures (Radio Evolve, 2021).
Denial and the Colonized Body
The colonized body is a hurt body. On whichever side of this false division our ancestry puts us, its dynamic fosters a fundamental contraction because our nervous system knows better. Hübl describes the nervous system as “a messenger of universal law … [and] a timeless source of conscious development” (2020, p. 143). Even if our mind and political structures do not recognize a violation of universal law, our nervous system does. As a colonizer, we can look like the lucky ones, but in the violation of life’s higher truths, everyone suffers.
A colonized body is a defended structure that separates us from life and an authentic sense of agency with life. According to Maté, the more people can take charge of their healing and themselves, the more curable they become. As an example, he says that while giving birth, it is not whether the mother has a C-section or not, but whether she feels she has a sense of agency (Grammatica, 2020). Maté points out a profound deficiency in medical education, saying that stress and trauma are not even mentioned (Grammatica, 2020).
Dispenza is a pioneer in the field of challenging and upgrading the life habits we assume are normal. He claims that we are culturally trained to focus on our five senses and matter, not on energy (2017, p. 250). This limited view does not allow us to connect with our inner capacities of intuition and a felt sense of connection within our challenges. Hübl highlights the importance of exploring these challenging “inner sculptures” because we will require inner space to process and digest as the world’s data speed accelerates (Mystic Cafe, 2021). Habits of trauma denial have created distinctly inhospitable environments within our bodies and the world. Thankfully, we have teachers reminding us to transcend the limits of our five-sense conditioning and to befriend them.
Befriending: An Inside Job
Given that most of us articulate our life and ourselves through trauma denial, befriending trauma is a culturally subversive act. Hübl says that we can learn much about how we relate to trauma by how we hold it in our body: “distanced, dissociated, denied, and disowned” (2020, p.131). Yet, if our relationship with the trauma in our bodies is so intensely unfriendly, how is befriending even possible?
Firstly, we must be honest with ourselves. We cannot befriend anything without knowing it for real. A courageous willingness to be present with our discomfort fortifies our capacity for inner-stillness and befriending. I betray both capacities when I project my discomfort elsewhere—onto another person or situation. Staying with and befriending the experience of this moment is both a challenge and an invitation to “supernatural” capacities. Capacities beyond our trauma conditioning come on-line through inner-stillness practice and the grace of timelessness. As our nervous system becomes less trauma-triggered, our heart develops a timeless coherence.
Secondly, we must be motivated to swim upstream from cultural habits of trauma-denial and projection. A traumatized world is unconscious, unfriendly, cruel, and yet here we belong. The manner of our belonging becomes a conscious choice only when we stay on the inside of trauma through practices of inner-spaciousness and presence. Being present with uncomfortable feelings—neither projecting outside nor collapsing inside—opens us to the innate healing potential of life’s energy. Stephen Porges’s polyvagal theory helps us to understand the nervous system’s connection to disowned trauma:
New experiences can either reinforce or remould how people respond to stimuli. Understanding must be brought to the autonomic nervous system needs, given its role in all lived experience. It can give us clarity on how we can stay anchored in social connection (khironclinics.com).
Befriending exiled trauma is a new axiom of understanding in therapy. When attuned presence becomes the therapeutic lens rather than fixing or discharging something “wrong,” the therapist-client relationship deepens and personalizes. As therapist and Vietnam war veteran Patrick Dougherty discovered:
As a psychologist, I started to see that the prescribed way of addressing trauma in clinical practice wasn’t helpful enough. We’d been taught how to take people back into their traumatic memories. I’d had my clients cry and scream and beat pillows, but none of those exercises had completely healed them… Clinicians are taught to remain distant and impersonal, but it is actually the felt experience of relation that is powerful enough to affect our neurobiology (Hübl, 2020, pp.109-110).
A Personal Epithet: Haïku and Childhood Fables
Reminders that we have agency in life and are not alone in our trauma were reflected in my favourite childhood fables. I realize now that I took solace in their healthy reframing amidst the overwhelming nature of my family. Now, I find writing Haïku a way of expressing transmissions of deeper truth and their inevitable paradox. Heartmath founders Browning and Carr remind us that it is up to us to put ourselves in order, as the Universe is already ordered and therefore achievable because it is inherent (Grammatica, 2020). As this coherent intelligence begins to awaken in our nervous system, we find the presence to be with trauma— and like any good friend, we are not in a hurry to fix, deny, or run away.
The simple capacity to “be with” is the foundation of authentic friendship. Trauma is no different. Slowing down to feel and connect with the wounding of our human condition—the betrayal, despair, anger, hyperactivity, and even numbness—is a heart capacity not developed in traditional enlightenment practices. When a timeless heart coherence meets the wounded heart, something out-of-time occurs that opens new landscapes of perception. This mysterious process of healing through relational contact moves us from trying to manage overwhelming feelings to discovering capacities of relationship with them. Similar to my sound healing client (above), our relationship to trauma shifts by realizing that “there is no escape.” True befriending is an act of walking forever in the spaciousness of the timeless heart. Traditionally this might be described as a life of faith, beyond paradigms of the conditioned and known.
The heart centred action of befriending trauma is generously transpersonal—it is not me trying to heal you or vice versa. If we can simply lean into the experience of this moment—without trying to manage it or distract from it—surprising new sensations begin to pulse through our nervous system. In befriending life just as it is, we may experience a bewildering and timeless glimpse of life being on our side. Just as in Genesis I, after each day of creation, “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31, NIV).
Mystic scholar John O’Donohue reminds us that it is really the tender presence of the divine indwelling that heals (1999, p. 178). Displaying an understanding of trauma’s intransigent nature, he explains how “deep inner-wounds evade time …their soreness is utterly pure [and] lose little of their acid with the natural transience of chronological time” (1999, p. 178). Where stillness and presence meet the raw purity of these enduring systemic wounds, the timeless healing of our soul is set into motion. With soul healing, we are not simply healing individuals; we are healing paradigms of collective multigenerational trauma.
Trauma-related Haïku Examples
The words “I love you”
Landed in this heart today A new world is born
Divine Gifts arrive As we dare to do the Work Of honest looking
A deeper calling Needs capacities Not learned in grade school
Don’t project your pain So much soul-treasure hides here
Everyone has Light But projection’s unhealed dark Clouds the receiver
Knowing myself well Lifts veils of separation And victimhood ends
My need to heal you Cripples my ability To connect with you
The more I fight life The more entangled I am Bowing to learning
Surrender is sweet It ducks below the effort Of seeking to know
A favourite fable I tell clients is The North Wind and the Sun. It reminds me of a Hübl signature quote I use: “I am not trying to fix you, I am trying to relate to you” (source unknown). The relevance of the message is to relax and stop trying so hard to get somewhere. Everything you seek is here already. In the competition between the wind and the sun, we learn to trust in the healing process. We learn that force only makes things tighter for us; we constantly cling to what we know—whether that be the familiarity of our spiritual, mental, or emotional landscapes or the world to which we have become accustomed. When we begin to sense the presence of something warm and inviting, we can start to relax into that. If there is nothing to relax into, there can be no letting go in the body’s nervous system— where change happens.
The wind attempts to strip the traveler of his cloak.
The sun persuades the traveler to take off his cloak.
Another favourite childhood fable, The Hare and Tortoise, teaches that slow and steady gets the results. One of the most challenging paradoxical principles of trauma integration is the more slowly we proceed—being present with where we are, again and again—the faster our progress will be. It is an act of humility to slow down and listen for the soul’s call for authentic participation in life. Slowing down forces us to feel and be in relation with this moment. Our digital age trains us to focus more on information than on relation. To be knowledgeable means knowing information about something, not necessarily feeling what you “know about.” It keeps us safely above trauma in our mental capacities but prevents the movement of deeper healing.
Keeping in mind that the body is the vehicle for authentic transformation, with our mental capacities being much faster, there tends to be a disconnection between what we think about and what is actually going on. Befriending trauma requires that we go slowly like the tortoise because trauma is stored in the body. When the body sets the slower pace, the heart and head learn to cohere within the slower rhythms that stillness and presence bring. Carr says that science now validates the physiology of heart-brain attunement on the vagus nerve, which influences the higher brain centres in the neocortex, and thus our thinking (Grammatica, 2020). In this way, she says, we create new stories of how we want to be, like tuning the radio station from our traumatized life to our transformation (Grammatica, 2020).
Befriending trauma begins with befriending our own exiled parts. As Rumi’s Guest House reminds us, we welcome each aspect that comes to the door of our perception. Slowing down to feel our numb and hyperactive trauma symptoms increases the depth and breadth of heart coherence. Habits of excluding our body from our felt-awareness also exclude our felt and living connection to inner-stillness and presence. The tortoise’s expression below seems to say something like, “When I slow down and just be where I am, I learn to love all of me; then I am also free and happy to connect to the world as it is.”
From childhood, I have identified strongly with the Ugly Duckling fable. I felt born into a family where my inherent mystical orientation was perceived as an inconvenience at best. Gradually I learned to turn down the volume of my soul’s swan-calling and began to find my place among the ducks, specifically, as “a healer of ducks.” Unwittingly, the spacious innocence of childhood became a trauma repository within the family system. Eventually, the “duck-healer” identity crystallized into a cumbersome pseudo-personality that doubtless influenced my early career choice in psychiatry.
Duck-healers do offer comfort and find purpose in their giving, but at what price to themselves? Unchallenged duck-healer identities easily lead to entangled relationships that do little to develop our swan potential. Swan potential is our inherent right to “be” and to heal authentically as a soul in God. Like many healers, childhood trauma conditioned me to “do” by managing the trauma of others.
Through the fortunes of Grace, the swan’s yearning was never fully extinguished from my awareness, in part because mystical experiences continued. I regularly encountered people who saw the swan behind the “duck-healer facade”—even while working in psychiatry. Not surprisingly, healing began for me with support to feel the burdensome weight of the conditioned personality. Understanding the innately divisive nature of trauma, how it separates us from our soul, each other, and the world we share, has been pivotal. As trauma’s grip loosens, I am learning to relate more authentically. Entangled in a trauma net, the best and most alive “swan parts” of me have been “missing in action.” Hübl’s reminders that early trauma defences are intelligent “childhood heroes” offer a welcomed trauma-befriending perspective (TWT, 2019).
Collaborative Befriending: Grounding Timeless Heart Coherence
Spacious presence and the willingness to befriend trauma begin new chapters in our human story. With healthy sanghas providing containers of stillness and presence, we begin to experience the potential of relational heart coherence. Collaborative we-spaces that practice befriending trauma are radically new in concept and experience. Experiencing a fluid coherence in relationship grounds the nervous system’s higher frequencies or Dispenza’s supernatural powers. A sense of peace enters when our spiritual becoming (soul) and our belonging (embodiment) co-regulate as one movement.
We build gateways into a more coherent human story with the seemingly insignificant gesture of befriending our discomfort moment by moment, bringing us into the connective tissue of our belly. The consciousness with which we meet trauma will bring it into the body’s awareness or exile it further into the unconscious. Naming trauma symptoms is relatively new, but understanding them as an imprisoned ancestral or collective past stored in our nervous system is revolutionary. More than ever, we need therapists and facilitators who are grounded in timeless heart coherence where no blame is placed. Their coherent transmission summons a timeless world beyond trauma’s insidious entanglement. As trauma is befriended, our cellular memory and collective nervous systems are infused with new perceptions and inspiring updates. The melting of trauma’s spell baptizes us into new collaborative possibilities.
Denied trauma patterns create inner and outer worlds of incoherence, separation, and fear. Transitioning from trauma-denial to trauma-befriending requires a timeless inner compass that guides and connects us through the increasing noise and confusion of our times. Trauma came about through relationship, and relationship is also where it is healed (Hübl, TWT2US). Intergenerational trauma is embedded in cellular memory, and its time-bound effects are wide-ranging and pervasive. For the most part, they create our current world. Connecting through timeless heart coherence offers a different world with different possibilities. Nassim Haramein’s simple statement that “no memory equals no time” reminds us of the timeless beauty that awaits in a trauma restored heart (Lefferts, Grammatica, 2020). Trauma patterns will continue until their memory comes to rest in the timeless music of cohering hearts—mine, yours, and ours.
Aesop’s Fable Picture. The north wind and the sun. Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_North_Wind_and_the_Sun. Illustrations by Milo Winter in a 1919 Aesop anthology.
Aesop’s Fable Picture. The hare and the tortoise. Retrieved from https://www.bedtimeshortstories.com/hare-and-tortoise-story
Aesop’s Fable Picture. The ugly duckling. Retrieved from https://www.bedtimeshortstories.com/the-ugly-duckling-story
Cohen, L. (1992 ) Anthem, song.
Dana, D. (2020). Polyvagal exercise for safety and connection: 50 client-entered practices. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
Dispenza, J. (2017). Becoming supernatural: How common people are doing the uncommon. New York: Hay House Inc.
Gangaji, (1995). You are that! volume 1: Satsang with gangaji. ISBN 0-9632194-3-X Library of Congress Card Catalog #95-71521.
Heidigger, M. (https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/martin_heidegger_210961)
Hellinger, B., Weber, G., Beaumont, H. (1998). Love’s hidden symmetry: What makes love work in relationships. Phoenix, Arizona: Zeig, Tucker & Co.
Hellinger, B., ten Hövel, G., trans. by Beaumont, C. (1990). Acknowledging what is: Conversations with Bert Hellinger. Phoenix, Arizona: Zeig, Tucker & Co.
The holy bible (NSV). Genesis 1:31.
Hübl, T., PCTH (Principles of Collective Trauma Healing, personal notes, Nov. 2020 to Feb. 2021).
Hübl, T. (Trauma-informed Leadership Pre-Call, May 31, 2021).
Hübl, T. (TWT2US, Timeless Wisdom Training USA2, personal notes from Feb. 2018 to Dec. 2020).
Hübl, T. (Mystic Cafe Teaching Jan. 2021, and short video clips).
Hübl, T.(Feb. 2021 Transcription of Video Clip from PCTH—Principles of Collective Trauma Healing—on-line course.)
Hübl, T. (Feb. 2021, Pocket Project Interview: “Collective Trauma: Healing the Unintegrated Past,” Diane Poole Heller Interviewing Thomas Hübl.)
Hübl, T. (2020). Healing collective trauma: a process for integrating our intergenerational and cultural wounds. Boulder, CO: Sounds True.
Madsen, L. (http://lauramadsen.ca/2021/03/an-inner-spring/)
Meister Eckhart Quote: (https://onejourney.net/meister-eckhart-quotes/)
O’Donohue, J. (1999). Eternal echoes: Celtic reflections on our yearning to belong. New York: HarperCollins Publishers.
Radio Evolve #473 (Germany 2021). Compassionate Conversations: How to Speak and Listen from the Heart, Thomas Steininger in dialogue with Diane Musho Hamilton.
Sheldrake. R. (2012). Morphic resonance and the presence of the past: The memory of nature (revised ed.). Toronto: Park Street Press.
Ubiquity Chartres Summer Academy (July 2020, Zoom hosted), Notes from (Virtual) Grammatica Presentation with Sheva Carr and Robert Browning (heartmath founders), Gabor Maté (emotional dysfunction and disease), Thomas Hübl (trans-generational trauma, and Marshall Lefferts (cosmic geometry).
Ubiquity Chartres Summer Academy (July 2020). Notes from the Chat, Amy Oscar.
Van der Kolk, B. (2014). The body keeps the score: Brain, mind, and body in the healing of trauma. New York: Penguin Books.
Greening Moon-Coherence in a Sun-Seared World
In Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, astrologer Richard Tarnas compares our natal chart to a beautiful poem (Astronomica, 2019). With this beauty in perspective, our karmic challenges transform into the sacred birth canal of our Soul. Our individual and collective evolution is embedded within these evocative archetypal planetary influences. A synchronized intelligence moves between ourselves and the planets. At its root, the spiritual ontology of challenge is a redirection towards life’s sacred coherence. Soul’s purpose and ancestral conditioning are both encoded within our astrological constellations.
As difficult as life seems, it is designed for this sacred trajectory of our evolution. How could it be any other way? Even if we appear to have forgotten, we are still the breath of life itself, abiding everywhere, in every life form. Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us in his untitled poem about falling stars, “… every gaze upward became wedded to the swift hazard of their play, and our heart felt like a single thing beneath that vast disintegration of their brilliance—and was whole, as if it would survive them” (poets.org). Rilke’s insight reflects a profound connection to life’s wholeness, the cosmos, and beyond.
The sun and moon are fundamental archetypal energies that give rise to vastly different orientations. Individuated habits of sun-consciousness may obscure Rilke’s glorious glimpse of her, but moon-consciousness continues to echo through time and every life form on the planet. A major focus of Tarnas’s book is the sweeping cosmic influences of the slower moving, more recently discovered planets of Uranus, Pluto, and Neptune (along with intermediary teacher Saturn). Tarnas’s careful examination of these planetary influences on our collective and individual psyche is a spectacular demonstration of life’s constellated synchronicity and profound coherence. Life cannot lose because life is itself, and we are life.
The lens of consciousness through which we perceive life, and particularly the influences of the “cosmic three” (Uranus, Pluto, Neptune), creates vastly different world-views and fields of coherence. Our collective lack of life-coherence has never been more obvious or global. We are quite literally headed off a cliff of our own unwitting design. Cohering with moon-consciousness is non-negotiable. Learning how to cohere with the hidden splendour of her timeless influence has never looked more urgent.
Greening Moon-Coherence in a Sun-Seared World
We are held within an astonishing generosity of coherence that only a few individuals in history have discovered. These pioneers have stood out in all the major disciplines as being ahead of their time and frequently misunderstood. We have had spiritual teachers from every major religion, early Greek philosophers, and more recently scientists, who were manifestly dedicated to exploring and living the coherent moon-truth of our oneness.
Drowning in a fragmented sun-consciousness, we have become hypnotized by the outer world of material science and consumerism. Our collective forsaking of moon-consciousness has stripped us of remembering our sacred belonging. Losing sight of our moon-compass creates a terrifying inner-void, escalating intellectual and material habits of consumption. As many have commented in these Covid-times, we have become a virus on the earth, voraciously consuming our mother and home, so disconnected have we become. Why?
Tarnas suggests that our focused desire to “be someone” (Sun influence) has caused us to lose connection to nature’s wholeness (Moon influence) by “turning her into another object” (Astronomica, 2019). He refers to Lunar influence as “who we are before we think who we are” and that our lack of relationship with her creates chaos (Astronomica, 2019). Within that chaos lurk hardened habits of objectification—the root of disconnection, trauma, and suffering.
The inner-depth of our relational moon-nature is the magic life-connection most of us experienced in childhood. Tarnas describes “early life and after childbirth as lunar times: lunar being defined by life and sun being defined by death” (Astronomica, 2019). He relates the moon with early childhood, matter, familial-ancestral ground, and “wholeness other than individuation” (Astronomica, 2019). The Moon influence, he says, is “who we are in the morning before we put our sun-egos on” (Astronomica, 2019).
Habitual self-referencing is a direct influence of an unmediated sun-consciousness. It runs rampantly undiagnosed in our culture like an uncentered dervish. The vortex of collective trauma is deeply buried within a disengaged consciousness, the fragments of which manifest as incoherent (morphogenic) fields in both our cosmos and psyche. Veteran couples therapist Terrance Real has only recently named Chronic Individualistic Disorder (CID) as a major contributor to marital disharmony (Webinar, Sept. 2020). Real is not alone in acknowledging a systemic root to our collective and individual suffering. Therapeutic communities have done a disservice by normalizing suffering; treating it one band-aid at a time instead of as the western epidemic it is.
As Real has done, the burn-scars from an unchecked individualism need to be named. We have suffered from a dearth of moon-consciousness in all walks of life, and our collective burns need validation, understanding, and care. If the sum-total of collective consciousness creates our shared reality, it is indeed good news that professionals are learning to name and give presence to systemic trauma patterns. Denying responsibility only contributes to endless blame-cycles and more trauma. We’ve lost our way, and blaming only creates deeper division. Finding our way is what’s needed, and how we do that is by examining our lens of consciousness.
Taking responsibility begins with slowing down. Practices of meditation, contemplation or relational prayer allow space to recognize the consciousness we support through our daily habits of attention, consumer choices, topics of conversation, and the ways we listen and engage (or not) with the world around us. It is time to be accountable for the part we play. Lao Tzu is quoted as saying, “the journey of a thousand miles begins beneath your feet” (en.wikipedia.org). We have learned to cope through denial and numbing, so the challenge is to begin there. Only a truthful beginning awakens the profound connective intelligence of moon-consciousness that restores our sun-seared nervous systems and psyche.
Saturn’s Limits: Pausing for Moon-consciousness
Germinating in the dark spacious womb of unknowing, a higher order of coherence constellates within our depth. Only within this spaciousness can the isolated individuality of sun-consciousness be softened by the holy waters of the hidden. Drop by precious drop, moon-consciousness begins to awaken us to life in ways that our individuated sun-consciousness cannot even imagine. A harbinger of humility, Saturnian limits create the necessary pause where our availability for life trumps our habits of fear and control.
Seeds of coherence live within the challenges of our astrological constellations. Coherence is naturally restorative because it connects us to an intelligence far greater than the sum of its parts. Cohering with life through body, mind, heart, and soul is the primary function of moon-consciousness—a birthright often known and lived as children. Moon-consciousness has an intuitive depth that allows us to listen beneath the noisy landscape of fragmented trauma.
Being available for the miracle of life is our most natural state as human beings. Our collective and personal blindness to this truth fragments our existence, compounding with each generation. The raging discomfort of trauma fragmentation causes us to spin ever faster as we try to live outside, or on top, of collective trauma. Saturn constellates through limitation and constriction, not allowing us to escape from the truth of our oneness and inter-connectivity. If we have ears to hear, we can appreciate the boundary-making influence of Saturn’s reminders. Saturn’s messages of limitation can be viewed as an evocative invitation into a new life. As Tarnas suggests, there is a long-awaited promise beyond the limits of Saturn:
Of the seven [planets], Saturn was the most distant, slowest-moving planet visible to the naked eye, and its complex of meanings directly reflected that status: the ruler of boundaries and limits, of finitude and endings, of distance, slowness, age, time, death, and fate. Many ancients, such as the Gnostics and initiates of the mystery religions, believed that beyond Saturn existed another realm ruled by a greater, more encompassing deity, a domain of freedom and immortality beyond the constraints of fate and death. As we move to a brief summary of Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, of their discovery and their observed archetypal qualities, we move in time from the ancient to the modern, and in space from the orbit of Saturn to the much larger regions of space circumscribed by these three outlying planets [Uranus,Neptune, and Pluto] evocatively described as Rudhyar as “ambassadors of the galaxy” (2007, pp. 91-92).
Cosmic Constellations in Fragmented Times
As the ancients predicted, the “cosmic three” beyond Saturn have been discovered: Uranus (in 1781, a seven year cycle), Neptune (in 1846, a fourteen year cycle), and Pluto (in 1930, a thirty-year cycle). Their archetypes and aspects both challenge and evoke us to cohere with higher states of consciousness: Uranus, enlightenment and rebellion; Neptune, the transcendent and spiritual; and Pluto, the primordial depth and power (2007, pp. 93-94). When they are conjunct with Saturn, we have an impasse that mandates change. As Tarnas says, when these three giants are conjunct or in close relationship with each other, we are pressed far beyond the status quo (2007, p. 115).
Under the spell of fragmented sun-consciousness, we have been unable to work effectively with the dynamic gifts of the “cosmic three.” From sun-to moon-archetype, from outer to inner orientation, from competition to cooperation, our collective existential journey reflects the constellated movements of these provocative spiritual planets. To the attuned and listening psyche, we are being invited to nothing less than cosmic restoration. Conscious of it or not, we are being constellated beyond individuated sun-consciousness towards a vast cosmic intelligence—the realm beyond Saturn of which the ancients foretold. As Hübl says, “the crisis and the miracle are never far apart” (Hübl Facebook group, 2020). Our duty to hold-fast with what is deep, true, and eternal (by whatever name) is paramount now, as expressed by American “Center for Contemplation and Action” founder Richard Rohr:
Somehow our occupation and vocation as believers in this sad time must be to first restore the Divine Center by holding it and fully occupying it ourselves. If contemplation means anything, it means that we can “safeguard that little piece of You, God,” as [Holocaust Survivor] Etty Hillesum describes it. What other power do we have now? All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is on the Supreme Court. We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison (Weekly Blog Post, Sept. 2020).
Our sun-oriented habits have become our collective prison. Without access to the inner-compass that infuses us with life, we are lost. The more we live out of alignment with this higher truth, the more we contribute to the fear-based underbelly of collective trauma. Tragically, the fear generated by our disconnection is compounded by increasingly disconnected attempts to fill the terrifying inner-gap through habits of acquisition and distraction. Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto may be telescopically visible, but constellating their cosmic promise requires the deep receptivity of moon-consciousness.
Moon versus Sun: An Imbalanced Landscape
To demonstrate their differences, I have taken the liberty of highlighting some of Tarnas’s key descriptors of sun/moon aspects in side-by-side fashion. I wish to make it clear that it is moon’s influence that serves—and saves—us, as we begin “re-greening” both soul and planet. I resurrect this word from multi-talented 12th-century healer, visionary, and mystic, Hildegard von Bingen. She intuited the greatest virtue as “Viriditas,” a verb she invented meaning the re-greening of the soul through God’s power: “Whatever makes us come alive and stretch out and give the world sweetness and nourishment; that is the greatest virtue” (Asbo, Humanity Rising).
- Sun: Vital creative energy, will to exist. Moon: matrix of being, psychodynamic foundation of the self.
- Sun: Impulse to be, to manifest, to be active. Moon: womb and ground of life, that which senses and intuits.
- Sun: Achieve, illuminate, integrate; individual will and personal identity. Moon: capacity to gestate and bring forth, receive and reflect, relate and respond.
- Sun: Executive functions of the self or ego, purposeful assertion, drive for individual autonomy and independence. Moon: need and care, nurture and be nurtured, the home, condition of dependence and interdependence.
- Sun: The trajectory of self-manifestation, ruler of the day sky, the clearly visible, the mono-centric, yang. Moon: the cycle of manifestation, ruler of the night sky, the diffusely visible and invisible, the polycentric, yin.
- Sun: single-sourced luminosity that overcomes the encompassing darkness, contains the whole in potentia, the archetypal Hero. Moon: multiple sources of luminosity within the encompassing darkness, the whole that contains the part in potentia, Mother Goddess and Child (2007, pp. 89-90).
The much-needed genius of the 21st century will be born through connection, through mystical dimensions of inner-stillness, healthy (related) science, politics, and economics—whatever their form—will guide us home to the polycentric nature of our true self. The arid spell of sun-consciousness can only be broken through our steadfast allegiance to moon-consciousness and the re-greening of her constellated beauty. The moon’s divine nectar heals through connection to the (yet) unknown, the undesirable, the dark of the individuated and collective unconscious. This is her territory. She stands gracefully with pain because she dwells within life’s timelessness.
As I reflect upon Tarnas’s list of sun/moon attributes, I sense into the myriad ways I have betrayed moon-consciousness—beginning with a strong resentment at age eight for having been born female. Even so, as I sit with my reflective sadness, I am aware of a deep inner-sweetness arising in my heart: sadness has been received and an energy flow or “hum” begins moving in my heart and down my arms. I recognize moon’s greatest blessing and gift: meeting us in our wounding. Having just experienced a mini-miracle within my own nervous system, I realize how often I try to change things rather than simply “be with” them. Einstein reminds us of the futility of trying to change a problem with the same consciousness that created it. Sun-consciousness changing sun-consciousness only adds bars to our prison, as Rohr points out.
Cosmic Responsibility: Greening Moon-Coherence
Tarnas presents an optimistic view of an embodied coherence of human potential, ultimately liberating us from the mechanistic, incoherent, and separated world of inherited trauma. He weaves an astrologically coherent thread between the charts of historic individuals and the strong planetary influences they mirror within the collective. From this, we learn how the one can represent the many, and the many represent the one. The truth of our inter-connectivity and primal agency within the whole grounds us in the sobering depths of cosmic-responsibility.
In a recent Humanity Rising webinar, I learned that Pythagoras, the 6th century (BCE) mathematician, artist, musician, astrologer, and all-around genius, coined the term “cosmos.” He claimed, “the world is not matter, but sound and geometry” (Asbo, Humanity Rising). “Cosmos” conveys the “common divine pattern” or “divine song” he saw and heard in the galaxies. Only a moon-constellated consciousness sees beyond matter into constellations of sound and geometry.
Translated from the Latin term cōnstellātiō, constellation means ‘with-the-stars’. How exquisitely beautiful to experience ourselves as constellated stars. Pythagoras taught from moon-coherence, focusing as he did on the feminine wisdom of Sophia while encouraging his students to “open their eyes to see the divine life pattern” (Asbo, Humanity Rising). Pythagoras intuited that our life depends on cohering with our feminine-receptive moon-natures. While science is now capable of proving the existence of cosmic divine patterns, moon-consciousness itself arises through a consciousness of inner-receptivity. While scientific proof may be externally validating and intellectually provocative, it lacks the re-greening experience of moon-consciousness.
This summer I completed Grammatica, the first of seven Liberal Arts offered each year through Ubiquity University and the Chartres Community. Based on his book Cosmometry: Exploring the HoloFractal Nature of the Cosmos, Marshall Lefferts’ slide show came very close to scientifically proving the existence of God. All of this was done through symbols and graphs of repeating patterns of life coherence— from the micro-levels of biology to the macro-levels of the cosmos. As Lefferts says, we are both children of the ether and the still-point of the torus at the centre of our belly (Grammatica, 2020).
As fascinatingly mind-blowing as I found this, I have never believed that proof is enough to change us because “what we are proving” remains an object of our inquiry. In scientific proof, we remain in a sun-oriented paradigm looking on from the outside. Objective analysis may point to the depth of our cosmic connection, but it fails to “green” the moon-seeds within our own nervous system. For example, in Lefferts’ presentation, the tension of opposites (that Tarnas addresses “between self and world, subject and object, psyche and cosmos”) was literally shown to be an illusion (2007, p. 48/Grammatica, 2020).
The tension between opposites provides the rich connective soil required for the inner-greening of moon-consciousness, and therefore can never be an illusion. Cosmic constellations begin to awaken within us as we cohere with an inner-landscape deeper than the divergent complexities and contradictions playing out in life. Objectifying life as an illusion allows the habitually denied underbelly of our collective trauma to grow. The disconnected hubris of sun-consciousness gradually dries up our ability to feel the subtle resonances of the cosmos. As Tarnas demonstrates, historic planetary disruptions of the “cosmic three” occur regularly. Our responsibility is to embody the wisdom of their disruptive force as both an end to what we have known, and whispered promises of new beginnings.
The Axial Age: Conjunctions of the Cosmic Three
Tarnas cites a stunning example of the cosmos’ coherency and intimacy with human consciousness: he identified the Axial Age (590’s to 550’s BCE) as a landmark period during which “an extraordinary global epoch of spiritual awakening and cultural transformation” occurred (2007, p. 410). The intense conjunctions between Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto during these four decades—at times separated by only 2%—have never been repeated (2007, p. 410). The close conjunctions of the “cosmic three” appears to have set the course for humanity’s spiritual awakening. As Tarnas says:
From the perspective of Western religious history, we see exemplified in the prophetic disclosures of Judaism during this (Axial) era the quintessential Uranus-Neptune theme of a radical transformation of the God-image and a revolutionary new understanding of the divine will acting in history— the latter especially appropriate to the presence of Pluto in the configuration with its archetypal association with both evolution and a universal will (2007, p. 411).
We continue to grapple with the spiritual “big-bang” of the Axial Age. Our faith-filled cosmic forebears were born within approximately 100 years of each other: Pythagoras, Confucius, Lao-Tzu, Socrates, Buddha, and likely unnamed others. Map-makers of an embodied cosmos, their uniquely attuned sun-consciousness was able to make visible the greening influence of moon-consciousness. Tarnas says “… to become conscious of the unconscious is what liberates us into being co-creators of collective reality” (Astronomica, 2019). These Axial Age giants remain living templates of cosmic possibility for all human beings.
As we learn to listen through moon-coherence, we begin to hear and feel a cosmic intelligence pulling us from within our hearts. Moon-consciousness includes the time bound, but constellates beyond it. Therefore, when we are grounded in moon-consciousness, we have a spacious availability for the suffering trapped within time. The cosmic coherence resonating from the centre of an individual heart carries a unique echo of the cosmos. While no two of us have the same “cosmic address” (Hübl term), we experience a resonance within our nervous system when we open to the cosmic-coherence of another person, place, or scriptural transmission. The timeless generosity and mercy of divine residue carries no “best-before” date.
Responsibility: Understanding Stored Suffering as Trauma
In 1930 Pluto was discovered. Tarnas describes the Plutonic drive as “a descent into what was repressed below” (Astronomica, 2019). The show-stopping influence of Saturn conjunct Pluto changed the “known-world” in mid-January this year, according to evolutionary-astrologer Marielle Croft (Gray interview, 2020). Profound relational capacities of moon-depth open within our hearts as we realize that we are not separate from planetary movements. When life-connection becomes stronger than habits of division, we discover new levels of engagement within ourselves and the world in which we live. From here, responsibility becomes regenerative rather than burdensome because the generosity of life moving through us includes us! In moon-consciousness, we are no longer separate subjects working in isolation from each other and life. Hübl expresses life-separation as the letters on the page forgetting they are part of the page (TWTUS2).
However, our disconnected suffering sits like a terrifying dragon at the gate of moon-consciousness. Only the deep womb of moon-consciousness is able to sit like a mother beside suffering and not run away. The Buddha named the Four Noble Truths as the truth of suffering, the truth of the cause of suffering, the truth of the end of suffering, and the truth of the path leading to the end of suffering. Simply put, suffering exists: it has a cause, it has an end, and it has a cause to bring about its end (www.PBS.org). Born two decades post-Axial age, Aeschylus also spoke about suffering and the wisdom that can come from it: “Even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart until, in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God” (goodreads.com).
Understanding trauma as trapped or imprisoned energy is relatively new. Politically, environmentally, socially, and economically, today’s world reels from layers of unnamed and un-metabolized trauma. As Garrison reminds us, we are socially adapted beings, and how we grow up shapes our relationship with our bodies and souls (Astronomica, 2019). Our conditioning, therefore, makes it very difficult to feel our inherited trauma patterns. We simply assume they are part of who we are individually and collectively. With trusting practice groups, we might begin to relate to our trauma patterns differently: as our responsibility, rather than who we are.
Liberation from suffering is never a by-pass. It is a willingness to feel and see suffering with clarity. Within this transformational dynamic, a humble and surrendered sun-consciousness begins to serve something greater. In the famous Dante’s Inferno, the soul that progresses from hell to purgatory begins on the shores of humility, after facing the causes of their suffering. Our collective refusal to take the Plutonian “dive” into our wounded psyches compounds collective suffering and increases fragmentation and division. Tarnas emphasizes that our culture is sun-oriented, denying that the sun goes down and refusing “to do what needs to happen” (Astronomica, 2019). Although he offers no instructional guidelines, he says that “we must die into our lunar-ground and impregnate her depths” (Astronomica, 2019).
A chief characteristic of the disconnected sun-consciousness living within our psyche and culture is unconscious projection, a tendency which Hübl addresses as “habits of othering” (TWTUS2). Garrison points to “the poison privilege that de-humanizes us … [where we] exile other humans as less than, and refuse to come down” (Astronomica, 2019). Naming suffering and trauma for what they are and how they manifest (individually and collectively) is the beginning of taking responsibility. In previous generations, our shared trauma landscape has not even been seen, let alone named.
Integration of personal trauma along with our corresponding cultural landscape does more to evolve human consciousness than anything else we do. The energetic act of shadow integration allows the nervous system to relax into the relational presence of moon-consciousness. As Tarnas says, once our human agency has been forged, we have the capacity for responsibility (Astronomica, 2019). From here, we are free to experience an embodied cosmic coherence that echoes our timeless belonging.
The Listening Bridge: Finding our Moon-home Within
Tarnas describes the planets as “archetypal principles that are not so much defined as evoked” (2007, p. 89). The word defined carries hints of a fixed knowing that precludes emergence. Evoked, on the other hand, refers to a recall or an emergent memory. Archetypal principles are like mystical principles (Hübl) that reflect a living memory imprinted within us: the underbelly, the shadow, the fecundity of our moon-natures, as well as the trauma of our ancestors.
Beneath our conditioning and the striving momentum of sun-consciousness lies the mysterious grace of our moon-home. Hildegard names the necessary struggle to reclaim our moon-consciousness through listening:
We cannot live in a world that is not our own, in a world that is interpreted for us by others. An interpreted world is not a home. Part of the terror is to take back our own listening, to use our own voice, to see our own light (https://www.azquotes.com/quote/854993).
In a world where many people feel estranged from both self and world, this statement is particularly relevant. Moon intelligence is not an abstraction or knowing apart-from. It arrives through the profound ability to listen to the movement of life beyond personal preference. Deep listening is an organic capacity of soul-intelligence that is felt in the nervous system and heart. In a state of receptive listening, we focus less on how to and more on being with. A recent conversation between Jim Garrison of Ubiquity University and Thomas Hübl of Academy of Inner Science was a striking example of a being with conversation. Their words were not abstractions or “talking about,” but “coherent with” an energy moving within them and being constellated (made available) through their conversation.
Like jamming musicians, the Garrison-Hübl conversation became an enlivening transmission to available listeners. Twice, a professor in attendance commented, “This is what makes us happy.” I reflected that it felt like we were “walking forever” (Hübl term), and Hübl stated, “we will have to do this again soon.” This conversation reflects the truth of Tarnas’s observation that “we may come to realize that the cosmos is intrinsically meaningful for and coherent with human consciousness; and that the Earth is a significant focal point of … this evolving universe, as is each individual human being” (2007, p. 489).
With inner-stillness and presence, we begin to experience an ordered intelligence that lives within the heart and nervous system. As Hübl says however, these subtle refined realities have not yet been stabilized in the world (TWTUS2). He describes the embodiment of refined realities as “ … a quality of listening inside, where we more and more come into resonance [and] what we learn here, is that we become the teaching … as an unfolding consciousness that will inform you” (TWTUS2).
The nervous system is a reliable feed-back loop working in two directions: Learning to listen to both the broken numb of disconnected trauma and the “common divine pattern” of Pythagoras. To a household practitioner, these are two sides of the same coin, as the inner-listening bridge blossoms into authentic contribution to the world. The listening presence of our moon-homes eventually becomes a refuge for ourselves and generations of unintegrated trauma.
Cultivating the Inner Home or Vessel
Hildegard encourages us to go through the “terror” of finding our own listening and our own voice. However beautiful self-intimacy sounds, it is terrifying because our authentic (God) nature is veiled in mystery and unknown to us. We are conditioned to know ourselves from the outside-in of embedded sun-consciousness. Looking at our reflection through culture’s looking-glass allows comparative analysis and a sense of knowing our cultural belonging (for better or worse), but does nothing to cultivate a sense of being at home in our own bodies and in life.
Standing back from Tarnas’s astrological analysis, one has the impression that humanity has been churned through repeating cycles of upheaval. While life has been lived peacefully by a few historic groups and individuals, mainstream culture appears to suffer from a severe time-lag. Tarnas relates our collective time-lag to the “hard aspects [i.e., conjunctions, squares, and oppositions] relative to Saturn, which appears to give its gifts over time [and serves] as the crucible that allows us to express our gifts later in life” (Astronomica, 2019). Perhaps “later in life” is now in terms of our collective maturation. Tarnas lists sixteen different ways we might be experiencing the deep limitations of the 2018 to 2021 transit of the Saturn-Pluto conjunction (Astronomica, 2019). Unforeseen at the time, the enduring limitations of the covid pandemic would no doubt have been included!
For a psyche steeped in sun-consciousness, heroic acts are a normalized response to Saturnian limitation. However, the individuated hero is less likely to foster an inner vessel where wholeness and mutual benefit is served. Hübl states that “the superman story is often a cover story [and] a vain attempt of culture to elevate itself on top of life” (TWTUS2). In contrast, a receptive moon-consciousness experiences Saturnian restriction as an invitation into depth.
A receptive inner vessel echoes a timeless cosmic-belonging that heals the myth of division and power-over created by a sun-seared world. Healing through attuned inner-listening is an emergent process of profound relating and is vastly different from the super-hero journey. Hübl reminds us that we are not separate from the world we are trying to change (TWTUS2); and Tarnas says that solar-lunar relationships are changing (Astronomica, 2019). A strong cultural and personal emphasis on sun-individuation is now softening into a more balanced relationship with moon-intuition. With less emphasis on individualism, new levels of coherence can emerge to create regenerative vessels of trauma integration and soul-greening.
Transpersonal Dimensions: Scaffolding for Group Coherence
Tarnas says that we are already beginning to taste the Uranus-Pluto trine, which will “help create more flowing ways,” beginning mid-2023 to 2029 (Astronomica, 2019). The transpersonal nature of group healing is the focus of my PhD exploration: how do we create energy-fields of coherent scaffolding where trauma is met within the timeless dimension of soul-intelligence? Coherent groups do not by-pass unintegrated fear, whether activated or numb, but become a safe scaffolding for them to be seen and felt.
On days 39 and 43 of Humanity Rising, Garrison stressed the importance of small groups as a way to build scaffolding. Coherent scaffolding is an external support structure that facilitates through collective presence. This group process reveals highly palpable, previously unacknowledged, habits of denial and numbing. Hosting new conversations and practices that assist our collective transition from sun to moon consciousness is vital. Humanity Rising’s diversity demonstrates how it is not about all of us doing the same thing, and more about supporting each other to find our inner-greening and sharing that with the world. Inner-greening manifests through the art of inner-listening as Hildegard reminds us. As scaffoldings of coherence spread, transpersonal dimensions emerge and individuated dualisms recede. We find ourselves becoming human beings together in ways we never could have imagined.
A Personal-Transpersonal Note on the Cosmic Three
Astrology is a way of accessing the big picture of our becoming (as Soul) and our belonging (in the world). In a state of moon-sun coherence, our becoming and belonging are not mutually exclusive. For the purpose of this paper, Montreal-based evolutionary astrologer Marielle Croft has helped clarify some aspects of my relationship to Saturn and the “cosmic three.”
There is an exhilarating sense of being deeply seen in Croft’s natal reading. Throughout my life, I have experienced encounters with transpersonal or cosmic dimensions. This has been accompanied with a strong sense that my individual journey is also deeply collective. I have never doubted that I have been born at the right time. Deep connections to both mystical realms and the sun-oriented consciousness of family and culture has made spiritual practice challenging. A deep commitment to cultivating inner stillness while living in life has meant that I have rarely sought “retreat from” as a viable path. As it turns out, there is an astrological explanation behind my desire to practice in this manner. Croft explains it this way:
When you were born Uranus was 27 degrees Cancer, Neptune was 26 degrees Libra, and Pluto was 26 degrees Leo. As you can see, they are deeply connected [conjunct] causing you to have the mission to guide the collective in their transformation. And this is what you have been doing.
The close conjunction of the cosmic three in my natal chart reflects the spiritual big-bang of the Axial Age Tarnas brings to our attention (above). Lest I forget my place in this, Croft made a point of saying, “you have reached enlightenment many lifetimes; your issue now is healing the inner-child.” She could also see a Saturnian trauma scar embedded within my natal chart where lifetimes of spiritual apprenticeship also meant exposure to strict teachers and being taken from family at young ages. Energetically, I recognize this trauma as a fierce defensiveness and need to do-it-myself. During a private session, Hübl also reflected on both the flow of beauty and grace of spiritual openness he sees in me, as well as “a defensiveness that could prevent life coming to you.” Cosmic coherence has been both my primary source of deep trust and greatest challenge: just as trust cultivates the re-greening of moon-coherence, its lack forms the bedrock of a sun-seared world.
Trees: Allies of Constellated Coherence
I would be remiss writing a paper on constellations of coherence without mentioning trees. Mysteriously, the human nervous system becomes more fluid and coherent in nature. Constellating with nature, we attune with source. As Lao Tzu wrote during the Axial age (in what is now eastern China): “Man follows the earth. Earth follows the universe. The universe follows the Tao. The Tao follows only itself” (Ch. 25).
Like many, in the moon-consciousness of childhood, I intuitively understood nature as nourishing. I often visited one particular tree in the forest for solace and comfort. So complete was the coherence emanating between the tree and surrounding forest, that I would forget my distress. Something had been set straight, and I never questioned it. I now understand these heightened states of coherence to be the landscape of the shaman and mystic: hints of the intimate transpersonal world beyond Saturn of which the ancients spoke.
One timeless encounter with trees that lives on in my life occurred in 1966 when I was twelve years old. I had a vision while driving near the place I have lived these past 27 years, during our yearly Easter visit to Vancouver. Going into altered states was not unusual, and I had learned to trust the liquid-flow of information released into my nervous system. Sitting on the back seat of the passenger side, I became aware that I was “seeing” the future. Until recently, I had no idea what the three massive westward-leaning energy-shapes were. It looked to me as if they were communing or attuning together. Not until last year, after two years of regular outdoor meditation practice, did I begin to realize that these three large shapes were the east-west line-up of the two-hundred-year-old Douglas Firs that grace the small forest in our backyard.
Despite many encounters with trees in my youth, it has taken my lifetime to validate what I was not taught to understand or appreciate: trees are the breath of our life and our sacred earth-companions. Working with collective dreams, Apela Colorado recently said these dreams now reflect an urgency towards renewing our Sacred Tree of Life for humanity to rise (Ubiquity-Chartres Community, 2020). If we listen, we hear the impulse of our tree-family calling us, “The trees are drawing me near, I have to find out why” (Moody Blues, “Tuesday Afternoon”). Garrison describes our connection with trees in this manner:
Trees are a form of ultrasound communication whereby humans and trees breathe together—we breathe the oxygen and trees make it… Historically, trees have been seen as the bridge between religion and spirituality and between finite and invisible worlds: Buddha’s mother gave birth to him under a tree and his awakening took place under a tree; “Thy will be Done” in Gethsemane took place in a grove of olive trees; in the initial 2005 pilgrimage for Chartres-Ubiquity Academy discovering the Sycamore tree was pivotal; and the Adam and Eve story took place in a garden of trees where humanity’s destiny changed (Astronomica, 2019).
Tarnas reminds us that our understanding of the archetypes, the science of the cosmos, and the psychological self “have all undergone a profound evolution in the course of history, and have done so in complexly interconnected ways at each stage in this development” (2007, p. 87). Whether conscious of it or not, we live within a field of profound connection. As our moon-coherence deepens and clarifies, a timeless flow of beauty emerges between moon’s receptivity and sun’s agency. A healed sun-consciousness is now free to serve the greening of soul and world and make visible the cosmic promise of the Axial age.
Aeschylus quote (2020, goodreads.com).
Colorado, A. (Nov. 8/20) Ubiquity Chartres Academy Community Call.
Croft, M. Astrologer: Notes from Personal Reading, Spring Equinox and Summer Solstice Interviews by Jonni Gray, Vancouver Psychotherapist (2020).
Hildegard von Bingen (quote, https://www.azquotes.com/quote/854993).
Humanity Rising Zoom Presentations (2020), Ubiquity University hosted (Jim Garrison), Kayleen Asbo, Hildegard of Bingen and Pythagoras, Day 100, Sept 17/20.
Hübl, T. (2020). Quote from Thomas Hübl Facebook group.
Hübl, T. (TWTUS2, personal notes from the Timeless Wisdom Training USA, #2, Feb. 2018 to Dec. 2020).
Lao-Tzu, The Tao Te Ching translation by S. Mitchell.
Moody Blues, “Tuesday Afternoon,” 1968 single by English symphonic rock band.
Real, T. (2020) Webinar Sept. 08/20: https://terryreal.pages.ontraport.net/crisis-of-humanity-webinar-replay.
Rilke, M.R. (1996–Translation copyright) “Do you still remember: falling stars,” from Uncollected Poems by Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Edward Snow. (https://poets.org/poem/untitled-do-you-still-remember-falling-stars).
Rohr, R. (Sept., 2020) weekly blog post.
Tarnas, R. (2007). Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View, New York: Plume, Penguin Group.
Ubiquity Chartres Summer Academy (July 2019), Notes from Astronomica Presentation by Richard Tarnas, Chartres France.
Ubiquity Chartres Summer Academy (July 2020), Notes from (Virtual) Grammatica Presentation by Marshall Lefferts, Chartres France.
Tasting the Embodied Faith of The Miraculous
While Living in a World of Shadow
Setting myself to the daunting task of writing on a book of this spiritual magnitude, I feel humbled and inadequate; yet something breathlessly exultant stirs within me–and so I begin. Every twenty years I find myself reading Autobiography of a Yogi. Since my early twenties, this astounding book has been a fiery reminder that life is nothing other than a spiritual journey. As part of the “Great Books” series offered by Ubiquity University’s Wisdom School, this third and latest reading is my first attempt to articulate the depth of its personal and collective message.
How does western materialism relate to endless tales of the miraculous from the eastern spirituality of Gurus and devotion? As I see it, the readership can have one of two responses: the first is to view it as an entertaining glimpse into a reality available to a few spiritual adepts; the other, far more challenging option, is to be willing to explore the truth behind the miraculous that lies dormant within one’s nervous system, heart, and mind. The first option does not challenge the personal or collective status quo, while the second beckons with the potential for radical healing and awakening.
The journey into willing exploration is not one to be taken lightly. Only a burning desire to experience God beyond the already-known suffices. Such profound attunement reveals new possibilities in every arena of life. Miracles may even happen, but they are not the point. The point is living a life of embodied Faith.
Tasting the Embodied Faith of The Miraculous While Living in a World of Shadow
A belief-based Faith is easily attained, revolving, as it does, around external identifiers. An embodied Faith requires a highly attuned, receptive inner-capacity. An embodied Faith is a dynamic practice, informed moment-to-moment by a palpable flow of energetic-intelligence within the nervous system. While contemplating how to describe this energy flow, the term “a temple of divine frequencies” came to mind. This energy makes itself apparent through the nervous system as altered body perceptions as well as a sense of something (seemingly) “new” coming into our awareness. I have experienced these states of consciousness during meditation, in groups cultivating inner stillness and silence, and during individual and group Sound Healing sessions (more on this later). During these experiences, the body can feel more expanded, lighter (like there is more space between the cells), and/or more solidly grounded and present. A receptive nervous system is vital to becoming a reliable vessel for attuning to higher frequencies such as the “temple of divine frequencies.” Mental abstractions or the lower vibratory level of conditioned frequencies that are considered “normal” are neither sufficient nor reliable.
Though a steady stream of the miraculous flows through Autobiography of a Yogi, that is not its most astounding feature. The treasure found in these pages is the palpable abundance of living Faith coming through Babaji and the various Indian saints in his lineage. They embody their Faith like we might eat a sandwich. A pithy (paraphrased) participant-comment during “The Great Books” presentation at Ubiquity Wisdom School contrasts our lack of Faith-capacity: “The Miracle is not the goal, but the sense of our continuity with the divine. The continuity is always going on and is more common then we realize, but we usually have a small bandwidth that we deal in” (Oct.09, 2018).
Autobiography of a Yogi exudes a continuous flow of divine consciousness. From Yogananda’s blessed lineage and his willing surrender to come to America, this divine transmission is passed along through the purity of their single-pointed God-devotion and Faith. The downward flow of its generosity is palpable while reading this book. Though we may feel it as a mere trickle in “the small bandwidth” of our conditioned consciousness, this beautiful synchronous God-world remains our birthright–with or without our awareness. In chapter forty-three, Sri Yukteswar describes how the subtle body of the astral worlds becomes more available at physical death because the consciousness of the flesh recedes (1987, p. 485). Unbeknownst to our conditioned attachments, God is the very ocean in which we swim and gives birth endlessly to–what we perceive as–the miraculous.
If the subtle astral world is available to us, the impossibly large question facing us is how do we learn to live from there while still embodied? As someone who has been graced more than a few times with a taste of this sacred world, I find myself devoting more and more of my life to this question as the manifest world seems to be spinning into chaos and destruction. I view the world Yogananda describes as an embodiment of Faith, and Kriya yoga as the recommended “how to” of his lineage. Kriya is a Sanskrit word for “to do” (Jim Garrison, Great Books presentation, 2018), so we could summarize Faith as the action of God-attunement or the doing of God through the refinement of embodied Faith.
The God-reality in which we unheedingly swim becomes visible through the paradigm of experienced Faith. Our western culture’s steadfast engagement to the temporal world leaves us with a collective spiritual blindness and a painful separation from our authentic identity in God. The vast majority of social, political, economic, and religious structures operate from within a polarized commitment to spiritual forgetfulness. Essentially, we live within cultural structures that support and encourage spiritual blindness. Again, in his rich exposé in Chapter forty-three, Sri Yukteswar explains that even after death, “… an undeveloped being from the earth remains for the most part in the deep stupor of the death-sleep and is hardly conscious of the beautiful astral sphere” (1987, p. 491).
How do we activate an awareness of the temple of divine frequencies while living in a culture so spiritually bereft? How can we support the movement of Kriya within our bodies and in the world around us? Can we cultivate awareness of astral splendour before we shed the body? What spiritual capacities are inherent in a lived Faith? What inner receptivity makes us available to the abundant energy capable of moving mountains, surrounding us in every moment? “For truly, I say to you, if you have faith as a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move hence to yonder place,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible to you” (Matt.17:20-21).
Thomas Keating, among other liturgical leaders have stated that God is closer than our own breath. Through our Faith, God shapes all manner of (perceived) finite things, including our (seemingly) impenetrably conditioned humanity. What hypnotic trance keeps us in a state of collective-collusion and makes us largely oblivious to the Faith-energy moving in and around us–apparently closer than our own breath?
The Faith addressed in this book is surely not the traditional faith founded upon a belief system where God becomes an object designed to answer our prayers. Sri Yukteswar reminds his students that ” … man cannot glorify an Abstraction that he does not know [and] … the only honour that man can pay his Creator is to seek Him” (1987, p. 335). By seeking God, the devote is lifted from the conditioned weight of materialism. It seems that Kriya Yoga is a Faith-in-action that opens students to new heights of experience, insight, and knowing. I suspect that the practice of Kriya involves a paradigm shift in focus, along with a complete reorientation of cellular-energy in the body and nervous system.
Connecting with Shadow as Embodied Practice
Paramahansa claims that merely “sitting in silence” is not effective because the contemplative mind is constantly dragged back toward the five senses; whereas Kriya controls the mind directly through the life force to the Infinite (1987, p. 282). Disconnecting from the senses, he explains, allows the Yogi to be free from past actions, and better able to receive directions from the soul (1987, p. 283). This point is pivotal for western readership and central to this paper. The dynamic between the conditioned senses (of the past) and receiving directions from the soul employing these same (now awakened) senses fascinates me. Same body, worlds apart. How can this be? As Caroline Myss reminds us in her recent presentation for the Ubiquity Chartres Academy Community Webinar:
Our concept of space is that our physical space measures substance, but we are in the age of energy. This higher consciousness is the age of grace the mystics were given. In order to heal, you have to make that transition to Holism. We are only now exploring the power that Jesus (faith of a mustard seed) and Buddha spoke about. (paraphrased, Jan.13, 2019)
My doctoral research proposal and current group work emerged out of ten years of studying and facilitating Silence Practice groups and cultivating inner-stillness in everyday life. I began to have a visceral understanding of two basic systems of consciousness within us: the time-bound human condition and the timeless potential of the soul. I refer to these two different energies within the nervous system as an Inner Constellation Mobile (see Appendix). In contrast to Paramahansa’s encouragement to disconnect from the senses, my commitment is to connect more consciously with conditioned senses (of the past) in order to integrate them.
It may be that my western psychological upbringing dictates my rather strong orientation to connecting-with, rather than disconnecting-from. Autobiography of a Yogi was written in 1950 and was an early attempt to “spiritually awaken” the sleeping West. Almost 70 years later, disconnecting from the senses as Paramahansa recommends feels Vedantic (i.e., the world is an illusion) and easily serves as a practice of spiritual by-passing. It seems an encouragement to abandon a sinking ship that has no idea how to overcome its situation. To use Ken Wilber’s terminology, we would be waking up without doing the work of growing up or showing up (2001, pp. 261-264).
As an energy-healer, the emergence of shadow-patterns becomes an opportunity for integration and healing rather than something to escape. Abandoning the (already abandoned) trauma of shadow-patterns feels incomplete. It is my experience that the cultivation of inner-spaciousness in the body is foundational for shadow-integration. Hence, my commitment to facilitating the practice of inner-stillness since the 2011 completion of my research thesis “Surrendering to God: A Heart-Centred Practice.”
My motivation for cultivating connection with shadow is three-fold: firstly, shadow is often rooted in childhood trauma when we had no choice to leave; secondly, the trauma is already a wound of abandonment or disconnection; and finally, avoiding connection with or ignoring unconscious shadow-patterns does not make them disappear, it just grows more shadow.
I have been fortunate to study with spiritual teachers who emphasize embodiment and thorough connection with shadow. Spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl specializes in meeting individual and collective trauma-patterns with spacious non-judgmental awareness. He has discovered, over almost two decades of group facilitation, that generational holocaust trauma persists in the German youth today. In the presence of an expanded awareness, trauma is met, not abandoned. Being present with what is was also a core teaching of bhakti (devotional) teacher Lee Lozowick (d. 2010). Based out of Prescott Arizona, I studied with Lozowick’s Western Baul tradition from 1997 to 2004.
Surrendering to the will of God as what is, as it is, here and now. The sensations, images, thoughts, identifications, experiences that are here and now. And questioning any fears and beliefs that prevent this surrender. Also, surrendering to the inner guidance, to the heart. And here too identify and inquire into fears and beliefs preventing following this guidance … recognizing that what’s here is love makes it easier (http://absentofi.org/tag/lee-lozowick/).
Whatever form it takes, the suffering of the human condition seems founded upon a collective (unconscious) agreement that we are separate from God and therefore from each other and from life itself. We are convinced that we are alone in our trauma-patterns, whether as a group or individually. Paramahansa refers to this as the “common life [that is] influenced by past actions” (1987, p. 283). This past-based “common life” is what most of us accept as reality. We will likely doubt ourselves even if we experience a taste of the miraculous. The “common life” cultural agreements preclude the realization of an embodied Faith in God. What good can come from further disconnecting from the world’s shadow in our spiritual practice?
The phenomenon of spiritual by-passing is prevalent in our culture. Many of us are inclined to make our spiritual practices about personal comfort rather than connection to God. Ironically, making our spiritual practice primarily about abandoning our physical/emotional/mental traumas only increases the underlying trauma of our God-separation. Unintegrated patterns make for a turbulent inner environment until we begin to experience the spaciousness of embodied Faith.
Resistance as Personal Shadow
Whether we inherit trauma patterns from our lineage or through our childhood traumas, they feel real. They do not feel like an illusion. We experience them physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. We so wholly identify with these patterns that we may resist the blessings of the more abundant energy flowing in and through the temple of divine frequencies.
I say this with confidence because I am such a person. I know of few people who have been graced with the number of mystical and near-death experiences as myself. These encounters have ranged from pleasant to powerful and, on one occasion, terrifying (as “I” was non-existent). I began my spiritual journey at the tender age of three, experiencing unitive states in the forests near our summer home, and they have continued intermittently throughout my life. When only one of these experiences has been directly terrifying, why do I still resist?
Simply put, I do not wish to surrender or give up control. I continue to engage in life predominantly from judgement and contraction rather than trust and flow. During meditation, doors of perception often open, but fierce habits of fear and resistance seem to prevent them from becoming a more stable influence in my daily life. I am unwilling to give up what Episcopal priest Cynthia Bourgeault describes as a “fixed point of identity.” Happily, she also points us towards the discovery of a latent operating system within:
We identify ourselves by what makes us unique and special. Of course, that same list also makes other people separate from me; they are outside, and I’m inside. I experience myself as a distinct and fixed point of identity that “has” particular qualities and life experiences, and these things make me who I am. But we come into this life with another untapped operating system, and we can learn to steer by it, understand through it, and ultimately discover our deepest sense of identity within it (The Wisdom Jesus, 2008, pp. 33-35).
The Nervous System: The Conditioned and The Free
The gospels of Jesus became my first teacher at the age of twelve. At that age, I felt such physical resonance when reading the gospels that I read the Bible every night on my own for almost three years. I have loved Scripture ever since, although church attendance has never held appeal. Years later, I found a similar resonance in the teachings of Lee Lozowick and Thomas Hübl. All three spiritual teachers are from the West. Each employs their abundant inner-spaciousness as a means of engaging with the human condition: the abandoned, the wounded, the traumatized, the weak, the sick, and the spiritually lost (covering most of humanity).
I strongly feel that the ability to attune to the nervous system trauma-response is crucial for Western spiritual seekers attempting an embodied practice. Western culture has disembodied itself by increasingly understanding the world through dualistic thought processes. An embodied spiritual practice requires a grounded, responsive nervous system that can inform thinking through insightful connection; then the nervous system can serve as a spiritual resource through attuning to the temple of divine frequencies and by being present for the constriction or trauma. The most intoxicating chapter of the book for me is chapter forty-three where Sri Yukteswar (in his resurrected state) describes the vast astral cosmos. I could literally taste these fine vibrations in my nervous system as he described the astral cosmos; “more finely attuned than the earth to the Divine Will and plan of Perfection” (1987, p.479).
Two different consciousnesses are also featured in Paramahansa’s rendition of the Bhagavad Gita (1999). Each consciousness is shown in a one-page map detailing their diametrically different effects on the nervous system (The Bhagavad Gita, 1999). He refers to one structure as the “Bodily Kingdom as Ruled by Rebel King Ego,” and the other as the “Bodily Kingdom as Ruled by King Soul” (1999, p. 17 & 20). Paramahansa and Bourgeault seem to differentiate between the same two basic structures available in human consciousness. In the preceding quote, Bourgeault references the dualistic operating system of our conditioning and the untapped operating that we can learn to live by. In Autobiography of a Yogi Paramahansa refers to the “ego prison” of the past, where “gross man seldom or never realizes that his body is a kingdom, governed by Emperor Soul on the throne of the cranium” (1987, p. 283).
As an embodied spiritual aspirant, how do I free myself from the grip (or prison) of conditioned structures while living in a culture that largely operates from within their structures? How do I become more available to an intelligence that is already within me, but latent? Perhaps it is easier if we recognize that love is here with us as Lozowick suggests — not merely as an abstraction or concept, but as a sensory-recognition within the nervous system.
According to Paramahansa, both of these questions can be answered by learning and practicing Kriya Yoga. With all due respect, I know a few people who have undertaken the Kriya Yoga method and have not experienced progress in “being with” the conditioned past or “attuning” to the higher dimensions of “Emperor Soul.” I suspect there is something more essential at play than simply learning a method. There are also too many saints who have never heard of, let alone practiced, Kriya Yoga.
Embodied Faith as Discrimination and Heart, Sword and Love
Autobiography of a Yogi relentlessly questions our western cultural conditioning and the egoic operating system. Our “ego prison” flourishes within a dualistic worldview. As Paramahansa states: “The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity; no law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is ever found free from inherent opposite or contrasted principles” (1987, p. 310).
I believe that the action of Kriya is the action of embodied Faith. It is an embodied Faith that allows us to transition from King Ego to Emperor Soul; or from the fixed identity to the untapped operating system. The subtle inner-world of Faith lies within the sphere of deeper attunement than our conditioned landscape affords us. Too often we try to understand the higher frequencies of Scripture or mystical experience from the dualism of the already-known. How do we hear and see the movements of Emperor Soul or discover the latent operating system within us? What inner-orientation shifts as we come to know God and ourselves through the action of embodied Faith?
Discrimination: Learning to See and Hear
A phrase well-used in modern spiritual circles is “where we place our attention is where we grow.” For many of us, to realize that we have a choice on where to place our attention is a huge shift in consciousness. I suspect it is the biggest hurdle to overcome as we “become aware of when we are serving Emperor Soul or succumbing to King Ego” (1999, p.19). When we recognize that we have a choice, we literally see and experience a wider/deeper reality. We perceive a less conditional field of possibility and something opens up that wasn’t there before.
Paramahansa employs the word ‘discrimination,’ in all his books, perhaps to allow us to see more clearly the difference between awareness and conditioned habits of the past. Discrimination is a third-eye capacity enabling us to distinguish Higher Truth from habit. This is the “seeing capacity” of the “untapped” operating system within us. I believe this is what Jesus referred to when he said that our hearing and seeing must come from a different place within. I feel that the Kingdom of Heaven is none other than our largely-untapped operating system of Emperor Soul within.
And the disciples came, and said unto him, Why speakest thou unto them in parables? He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given. For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath. Therefore speak I to them in parables: because they seeing see not; and hearing they hear not, neither do they understand (Mt.13:10-13).
Similar to an outer journey, an embodied spiritual journey begins from where we are. While we must be in touch with conditioned habits, we also need to see and hear beyond the known of conditioned dualism. If I am unable to discriminate between the conditioned inner-impulses of “King Ego” and the deeper inner-guidance of “Emperor Soul,” my spiritual journey will not progress.
The Yearning Heart: An Inner Compass
The Yearning Heart is a powerful Faith-instrument that can call or transmit signals to the divine. The Yearning Heart became the most influential of the five themes of my 2010 Theology Master’s Thesis “Surrendering to Silence: A Heart-Centred Practice.” Paramahansa compares the heart to a radio, and the third eye to an antennae (1987, p. 299). He explains the dynamics of a finely-tuned nervous system as one that gives and receives telepathic messages. For example, Paramahansa explains that he “broadcasted [his] love to the soul of his student Kashi through the microphone of the spiritual eye” (p. 299). He was also certain that he would know when Kashi answered his call because he would feel it “in the nerves of [his] fingers, arms, and spine” (p. 299).
Babaji’s responsiveness to the yearning heart of a few Americans and Europeans lies at the root of Paramahansa coming to America: On his first meeting with Sri Yukteswar, Babaji (in the body-form of Lahiri Mahasaya) explains that he will send Sri Yukteswar a student who will travel to America because: “The vibrations there of many spiritually seeking souls come flood like to me. I perceive potential saints in America and Europe, waiting to be awakened” (p. 390). His perception turned out to be true as Paramahansa had several close students ready and eager for his Kriya Yoga teachings. It has been my experience that my Yearning Heart is responsible for many varied mystical experiences throughout my life, as well as teachers that have come into my life at the right time.
Personal Faith Experiences
At eight years old, I had my first near-death experience. After falling onto my head on a cement floor, I suffered a severe concussion and fell into a coma. According to doctors, hope for recovery was slim, as the equipment necessary to drain the swelling of my brain was in Vancouver. In Kamloops they could only offer twenty-four -hour watch in critical care.
When consciousness finally returned after a week, I stared in disoriented surprise at the nurse beside my bed and she, also surprised, stared back at me. Her surprise was a response to my regaining consciousness. My surprise was because she had two eyes rather than one and I had no clue where I was! Wherever I had been, everyone had only one eye in the centre of their forehead. For years I maintained that I had been “on a different planet” for that comatose week. I had no context for my belief at that time, but when I read chapter forty-three of Autobiography of a Yogi for the second time twenty years ago, my whole body responded with relief and joy as though reminded of a precious home I had forgotten.
I have had a propensity for mystical experiences throughout my life. Having no guidance in these matters, I was at a loss on how to express them without sounding crazy. Like many, I grew up in a conventional world where divine possibility was an inconvenience at best and a sign of psychosis at worst. In fact, my father was adamant that if I spoke about my experiences, he wanted nothing to do with me. With time, I began to develop an inner-resistance to the mystical leanings within me. I learned that I had to choose between the call of the mystical and belonging to my family and culture. By the age of ten, I saw myself as “an alien” going through the motions of “being normal.”
Autobiography of a Yogi assures me that I already belong as a spiritual being abiding in God. The profound spiritual weight of this sacred book revolves around God’s play. In the Hindu tradition, God’s play in our life is referred to as a Lila. As I read this book for the third time, my physical-body relaxes as my subtle-body glows in resonance at the sacred truth behind the miraculous stories. Given half a chance, these subtle resonances become accessible. Facilitating Silence Practice groups over the last decade, I have become aware that the shared experience of listening to these higher truths opens a collective field that can feel like a new world that has opened within and between us.
Ananda Moyi Ma refers to the “sheer logic of Faith” and claims that “it is man’s duty to become a seeker after God or Truth” (p. 525). I believe that Ananda Moyi Ma’s “sheer logic of Faith” is experienced in our nervous system. We are the perfect vehicles for Faith-logic embodiment. “O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him” (Psalm 38:8).
On several occasions in my life I have “tasted” the “logic of Faith” as a significantly different consciousness coursing through my nervous system. These experiences have come unbidden, some more subtle than others. The strongest of these occurred in 2001 while my husband and I were doing our (then) regular evening meditation. It began with the sensation and inner-observation that my heart was beginning to expand and open like a camera lens. For several years in my mid-twenties, I taught energy-meditation techniques that included observing from the neutrality of the “centre of the head” (the pineal gland) and grounding from the root chakra. Initially, I just observed this unusual occurrence as it unfolded within me, but gradually I came to be immersed in a full-blown multi-sensory experience of the Universal Heart. The visual heart-sensation was one of being in an endless galaxy consisting of moons and planets in a sapphire-blue sky; the cells of the body seemed to be floating in the spaciousness of this sky; the feeling-sensation was one of boundless beauty (a mixture of exquisite tenderness & love); the olfactory sense was a perfume of jasmine. (I am actually not sure of the smell, but if heaven has a smell this was it!) All of these wondrously mysterious sensations seemed to emanate from an endless source of energy in my heart chakra. I recall feeling that this experience had something to do with Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s picture on the bureau to my right.
The next morning, I learned that my experience coincided with Yogi Ramsuratkumar, the “hidden saint” of Tiruvannamalai, exiting his body. Yogi Ramsuratkumar had frequently said that his sincere students would know when he died because his energy would become more available. Seventeen years later I can still feel the heart-vibrations of this astounding divine blessing and gift. A small taste goes a long way. At this time, I also became aware that the “turbaned man” appearing in two powerful dreams in 1977 was Yogi Ramsuratkumar.
This experience may be what Sri Yuketswar describes as “Superconscious perceptions of truth [that] are permanently real and changeless, while fleeting sense experiences and impressions are never more than temporarily or relatively true, and soon lose in memory all their vividness” (1987, p.483). I am suggesting that this is Bourgeault’s “untapped operating system” and the world of the mystic whose entire life becomes a willing consent to God. What is freely given with this operating system is a taste of power, grounding, and energetic-circuitry palpable in the nervous system. The body begins to resonate at a distinctly higher and more coherent frequency.
Yogi Ramsuratkumar was a man of impeccable Faith. For him, there was “only God” and he lived this truth, never considering himself a teacher (because “he” did not exist, only God did). Following his spiritual death in 1952 (aided by his third and final Guru, Swami Ramdas), Yogi Ramsuratkumar only referred to himself in the third person as “this beggar.” I never met the “hidden saint” in person, but in 1999 and again in 2001, I watched a video of him bestowing blessings on his devotees. The difference in the way I perceived his movements during each viewing addresses the significant energy shift that I believe resulted from the February 2001 heart-opening experience I had at his physical death.
Trained in psychiatry as I was, the 1999 viewing had me concluding that Yogi Ramsuratkumar’s rather jerky body movements were similar to the dyskinesia seen in patients taking too much Psychotropic medication. I did not even notice the movement of his hand giving blessings. When I watched this same footage again in May 2001, I could feel hundreds of darts-of-light landing in my heart as he flung his hand in the direction of the camera saying, “my Father Blesses you.” I did not even notice his jerky body movements, only the uncompromising force of his blessing as these light-darts landed in my heart.
Like many spiritually oriented people raised in a materialistic culture, there has been an extreme lack of education on subtle nature of the astral and causal worlds described so beautifully by Sri Yukteswar in chapter forty-three. Materialism imprints heavily on my western mind and heart, even when I have been blessed with occasional tastes of these astral worlds.
The refined teaching in Yogananda’s book cannot seed itself within the dualistic operating system of materialism. Chapter forty-three places my four near-death experiences and several mystical experiences within a higher-ordered context where I know beyond doubt that I belong because I Am. It is a physical, emotional, and mental relief to place these experiences within a higher-order mystical intelligence. Reading this chapter feels like an ecstatic home-coming where the world-as-I-know-it disappears, and another comes into focus.
My heart literally leapt in rejoicing when I read Paramahansa’s descriptions of an operating system that serves spirit alone — as absolute authority. I feel like the swan in “The Ugly Duckling” tale who realizes that her attempts to become a duck were fruitless and unnecessary. I have been trying to conform to the dualistic operating system and forgetting to listen more regularly to this subtle, beautiful higher intelligence of the untapped operating system within.
Sri Yukteswar’s teachings on the awareness of the three energy bodies in chapter forty-three are unparalleled (1987, p. 493). While reading the book this time, the truth of his astral teaching activated my nervous system. I felt more alive and breathlessly still–my whole body galvanized with listening. The description of the physical, astral, and causal energy-bodies rang true as a visceral knowing. It seemed that time stopped as the higher intelligences moved like an uplifting inner-breeze bringing relaxed alertness in the body, a feeling of peace and understanding, and mental acuity.
Paramahansa himself describes his response to Sri Yukteswar’s intimate descriptions of the three energy bodies this way: “never from song or story had I ever received such inspiring knowledge…though the Hindu scriptures refer to the causal and astral worlds and to man’s three bodies” (1987, pp. 492-493). Paramahansa goes on to exclaim that it is his master’s authenticity that makes this teaching about the three energy bodies come alive (p. 493). The relationship between teacher and student has a profound influence on our spiritual progression. The relationship between Paramahansa and Sri Yukteswar is one of trust founded upon a deep love; the best transmission source for higher learning because the heart is open and available.
Equally important and related is spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl’s reference to the importance of healing within relationship. Thomas says that because trauma occurs within relationship, it is also where we heal most effectively. This is good to remember if we are attempting an embodied spiritual practice. Grounding our practice in the healing of relationship also prevents our spiritual aspirations from becoming a way of by-passing the shadow patterns often revealed in relationships. It also supports the regular Triads and Dyads I have implemented in my Inner Constellations work. (To see more about Inner Constellation group practice, please go to lauramadsen.ca)
A willing mind and heart light our way home to the Soul’s beauty in God. The foundational principles of our inner God-journey are the signposts and practices hidden behind the miraculous nature of these stories. Babaji proclaimed to Lahiri Mayasaya that the truth is for earnest seekers and not for idle curiosity where soul-searching is not required (1987, p. 368). There is a way that we must learn to relate to these teachings, and it involves more than respect from us. I sense that it entails an unwavering understanding that these Teachings are the only Life we have and our true place of Belonging. When we understand the Teachings, we can then honour them with our faithful allegiance. Eventually the conditioned habit-of-who-I-am relaxes enough to experience the subtler dimensions within our own body, heart, and mind. Lee Lozowick describes our relationship to the miraculous this way:
To ultimately “make it” in this Work of Awakening, of Transformation, you have to embrace the miraculous — always. And that miracle is you being so much at peace with yourself that you can turn your energy towards welcoming and using the opportunities that are always falling into your lap. To embrace and devour these opportunities will make you free, happy, full of life, full of passion (http://arunachalagrace.blogspot.com/2011/03/lee-lozowick-tribute.html).
Where to From Here?
In his first meeting with Babaji (disguised to resemble Lahiri Mahasaya), Sri Yukteswar describes how Babaji claimed that “East and West must establish a golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined” (1987, p. 389). Hübl refers to this as the “mystic in the marketplace.” Culture is vital as a spiritual container if we are to ground our spirituality in and through the body and live in the marketplace. As an example of the influence of culture, I traveled for five weeks in India with the Western Bauls in 2004. As we traveled from Tiruvannamalai in the south to Calcutta and a small village in Bengal, I experienced a graceful energy flow in my body, along with a calm mind and emotions. Everywhere I went I experienced a sort of “unifying hum” in my body. (Unfortunately, with re-entry into my own culture the same tensions and feeling of disconnect returned within a week.)
The culture we create together matters. Slowly, groups are gathering together to practice accessing and embodying higher frequencies, not as an abstraction outside ourselves but as a lived experience — tapping the untapped operating system within our nervous system and heart. In the West, I believe that it is not so much “a method” as a profound, singular will that allows us to both transcend and include our dualistic conditioning. As Garrison said, it is not about knowledge, so much as capacity (Great Books presentation, Oct.09, 2018). Faith is a capacity we are capable of developing given the right environment and direction.
I see Faith-capacity growing in the number of ways that healing is available in the West. What healing is and how we are guided to new forms of healing is an act of Faith: a calling out, a listening, and an emergence of a new way to integrate higher frequencies. I can thoroughly relate to Caroline Myss saying, “I am nothing I trained to be, and I am something I have never heard of” (Ubiquity Chartres Academy Community Webinar, Jan. 13, 2019). I feel that we are in the middle of a transition or birth process– complete with contractions! We are being guided from the restricted perspectives of dualistic operating systems to an expanded operating system. For those of us in the West, it is not just “wrong thinking” as the Buddhists say, but an “outdated operating system.” Hübl has a delightful expression about our propensity to behave as though we are separate lap-tops when in fact, we belong to One Big Super-Computer (spoken on several of his on-line classes).
Of personal interest to me is Paramahansa’s statement that “India has long recognized the human voice as the most perfect instrument of sound” (p.184). I am a singer. On more than one occasion I have been told that my singing voice is “very calming,” or “makes me believe that there is good in the world,” or “feels like a prayer.” I have never been interested in using my voice to entertain per se, although I have willingly sung at friends and family weddings and funerals. As a newly awakening gift, I am delighted to discover a rather surprising ability to connect with energy using my voice. Varying the sequence of the notes, tones, and vowels–including intermittent silent periods–can make powerful shifts in the nervous system and consciousness of an individual or group. I am thrilled therefore to include sound healing in my doctorate proposal “Discovering and Integrating the Soul’s Nervous System through Inner Constellations and Sound.” Of particular interest is Paramahansa writing that “Hindu music is a subjective, spiritual, and individualistic art, aiming not at symphonic brilliance but at personal harmony with the Over-Soul. The Sanskrit word for ‘musician’ is bhagavathar, ‘he who sings the praises of God’” (1987, p.184).
It is clear to me that there is a parallel universe running through our thick shadow-world consensus– one where synchronicity with God is the rule rather than the exception. From this perspective, there are no miracles as we would perceive them, only the Grace of God’s creativity within and through us. The movement of God in our lives is a magnetism and a felt experience in the nervous system—closer than our breath (Keating). It is a temple of divine frequencies that is capable of flowing through my body, emotions, and mind because none of these are separate from God. As Garrison said in his presentation, the mysteries of the cosmos begin to imbue the ordinary (The Great Books, Sept.11/18).
What makes this book astounding is the Faith of Paramahansa Yogananda and his lineage. They are a living expression of the uncompromising reality of divine order; a world or operating system that remains untapped for most of us, despite having been blessed with openings into this hallowed reality. Transitioning to our latent operating system, new possibilities emerge because we see and hear differently. We taste the miraculous through an embodied Faith where God manifests as the highest expression of our will. Arguably the greatest Western teacher of embodied Faith puts it this way: “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Matt. 6:33).
Perhaps this gospel quote is as good as the “how to” instructions get for West meeting East, creating Babaji’s “golden middle path of activity and spirituality combined.” The question of how to receive and transmit this reality in a way that makes it visible in our secular culture has intrigued, beguiled–and at times–tortured me, all of my life. As I see it, our individual and collective lack of embodied Faith is the only barrier between ourselves and the miraculous God-world we inhabit. With the third reading of Autobiography of a Yogi, I experienced this book’s transmission more profoundly and more frequently. Several times while reading, I felt a responsive resonance that vibrated with the “hidden” Truth beneath the miraculous: that we dwell now and forever in the timeless dimensions where the miraculous dances effortlessly in this world and worlds beyond.
Bourgeault, C. (2008). The wisdom Jesus: Transforming heart and mind— A new perspective on christ and his message. Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
The holy bible (RSV, revised 1952). Matt. 6:33, 17:20-21.
Hübl, Thomas, On-line course content (2017-2018).
Lozowick, L. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://absentofi.org/tag/lee-lozowick/
Lozowick, L. (2011) arunachala grace, a tribute [Webpage]. Retrieved from http://arunachalagrace.blogspot.com/2011/03/lee-lozowick-tribute.html
Ubiquity Chartres Academy Community Webinar, Caroline Myss presentation, Jan. 13, 2019.
Ubiquity Wisdom School, Great books course, Jim Garrison presentation, Oct. 09, 2018.
Yogananda, P. (1987). Autobiography of a yogi: A classic introduction to the science of yoga. (revised ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Yogananda, P. (1999). God talks to Arjuna, the bhagavad gita. (2nd ed.). Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship.
Wilber, K. (2001). The eye of spirit: An integral vision for a world gone slightly mad. (3rd ed.). Boston & London: Shambhala Publications, Inc.
The Timeless Beauty of the Mystic Heart:
A Fiery Refuge in Times of Spiritual Anemia
Exploring the timeless beauty of the mystic heart is the most heavenly challenge of a lifetime. As embodied spiritual beings we live within her eternal beauty, although she remains as little known now as she was in Kabir (15th C.) and Jesus’ time. The challenging beauty of the mystical path is precisely this: there is no true understanding without being transfigured by that which we are seeking to understand. The identified seeker slowly fades from their own perception as their relationship with the mystery burns ever deeper. There are no half-measures, compromises, or “having it our way” for a mystic. Kabir says “I’m nobody. So are you. What ecstasy! Join me” (2018, p. 178); and Jesus says, “… unless you come as little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 18:3). Through Kabir and Jesus we find a sacred transmission in their uncorrupted expressions of the mystic heart. Uncorrupted because, in each of them, we find profound inner-capacities for timeless listening and a skillful wielding of truth’s sword. I have chosen Jesus over other possible mystics because his direct unsparing style is similar to Kabir’s, and because he is the most influential mystic of all time.
Traditional monotheistic religions refer to this supreme intelligence as God. While naming is a valuable aspect of our human development, the naming of our divine inner-intelligence has been costly. With the exception of a few devoted mystics throughout history, “divine naming” has empowered the “naming-institution” rather than the essence of what is named and the furthering of our sacred relationship with it. Without the lived intensity of a fiery mystical state, we are rather easily misled by various forms of fingers-pointing-to-the-moon, rather than the moon itself. Lost in the fire of mystical union, both Kabir and Jesus effortlessly discern the moon from the fingers and— when not praising God— they are calling out the piously religious for their spiritual delusions.
Our historic tendency to “conceptually-identify” rather than “engage-with” continues to contribute to profound levels of spiritual anemia and confusion in the west. Somewhere beyond secular materialism and religious institutionalism lies the unexplored territory of the mystic heart that sees through the naked beauty of “only God”—not as a thing, or a qualifying name, but as a profoundly intimate relationship that is more alive within us than the beating of our physical heart. Attuning to God is the mystic’s first priority: through their fierce commitment they become a timeless refuge in a troubled world.
The Timeless Beauty of the Mystic Heart: A Fiery Refuge in Times of Spiritual Anemia
In the following essay, I also wish to explore the unique language of mystical expression. Deeper than the expression itself however, I wish to honour the mystic’s steadfast willingness to listen beyond time—to be devoutly receptive to the mystery of belonging to God alone. The expression of the mystic is encoded, not as in trying to keep anything secret, but because it takes a similar resonance or wave-length to receive the timeless subtlety of the mystic’s expression. As Jesus said, “blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear” (Matt. 13:16). There is a transmission-transaction between the inner-coding of the one reading or hearing mystic expression and the place the mystic is attuning to while expressing. This is true in the case of reading scripture and mystic poems/songs where, in the receiving, the “listener” is transported to the place where the expression was conceived. In both the mystical expression and in the receiving of that expression, one enters a timeless dimension and is transported, transfigured, and/or—if lucky—transformed permanently.
I also wish to explore the receptivity-factor for “hearing/seeing” divine expression. As one with a strong propensity for the language of the mystic I can attest to the strong transmission inherent in a mystic’s expression. To that end, I have included mystical reflections from Andrew Harvey’s Great Books lectures (Ubiquity University) on his recent book Turn Me to Gold (2018), the penetrating nature of Kabir’s songs, the gospel-gold of Jesus parables, and my own mystical insights that have graced my awareness more in the past fifteen years than at any time in my life. (http://lauramadsen.ca/practice-insights/). I have also included two of ten Devotional songs I wrote in 2010 while deeply immersed in exploring the mystical practice of relating to Silence and inner-stillness.
As mentioned, the inner-upwelling of the mystic heart takes place through their ability to attune and listen. They are consumed by a piercing reality that can be expressed in unique flavours and styles. For example, there are many Indian mystics who, other than the blessing of a palpable transmission, offer little in the way of obvious expression; while scientific invention could conceivably qualify as an aspect of mystical expression also. For example, Albert Einstein and Elon Musk may be able to envision well ahead of their current paradigm because they are influenced by the timelessness creative abundance of the mystical realm. My point is merely to suggest that, whether consciously listening or not, we are eternally saturated in the timeless God-mystery we share. Thomas Merton, mystic and “king of silence practice” in the 20th C. Christian tradition, writes:
It is only the infinite mercy and love of God that has prevented us from tearing ourselves to pieces and destroying His entire creation long ago. People seem to think that it is in some way a proof that no merciful God exists, if we have so many wars. On the contrary, consider how in spite of centuries of sin and greed and lust and cruelty and hatred and avarice and oppression and injustice, spawned and bred by the free wills of men, the human race can still recover, each time, and can still produce men and women who overcome evil with good, hatred with love, greed with charity, lust and cruelty with sanctity. How could all this be possible without the merciful love of God, pouring out His grace upon us? Can there be any doubt where wars come from and where peace comes from, when the children of this world, excluding God from their peace conferences, only manage to bring about greater and greater wars the more they talk about peace? (The Seven Story Mountain, retrieved from http://goodreads.com)
Kabir also addresses this phenomenon of our lack of God-awareness in the punchy wit he is known and loved for: “The fish in the water that is thirsty needs serious professional counselling” (Daniel Ladinsky, 2002, p. 211). In an attempt to remind us that we are indeed fish-in-God’s-water, both Kabir and Jesus teach about right relationship with a higher order of intelligence. In his song writing, Kabir refers to this intelligence as Beloved, Lord of Truth, King, Father, Magician, Master, among others. Jesus often stays with Father and the Kingdom of God or Heaven, and is highly creative in relating everyday life allegory (parables) to enlighten his followers about their relationship to God.
In both mystics we hear an expression of abundance that compels and electrifies them. Any personal loss they have suffered is subsumed in the generous beauty of the mystic heart’s surrender to God. During these moments, we hear Kabir and Jesus admonishing us to release our precious identification to religious dogma and secular materialism. Kabir sings of the timeless paradox of finding refuge and bliss only in the naked vulnerability of our relationship to God:
Everyone is wound in illusion’s web—
The so-called holy as much as the worldly
And those who run for safety
Under the comforting dais
Of form and ritual and dogma—
Well, life’s hurricane lashes them.
Stay out in the open:
You’ll be left safe and dry.
The ones Love never savages
Live in boredom and pain;
Those Love devours like a cannibal
Live in bliss forever.
The ones who lose their own eyes
Come to see the whole Creation
Blazing in their own Light;
Those who hold on to their sight
Remain blind as bats in full noon.
When I began to awaken to the Truth
I saw how bizarre and crazy the world really is! (2018, p. 58)
Fifteen hundred years earlier, Jesus expressed the same mystic principle or divine law:
Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust consume and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt. 6:19-21)
We do not encounter God in tidy ways that suit us. God’s way is not “convenient to us,” and can be challenging to discern amidst the noise of the world. The Mystic in the world reminds us that our deepest treasure is finding the sacred in everyday life through the timeless beauty of the mystic heart.
The Timeless Landscape of the Mystic
A mystic is an embodied spiritual being. They live in the world, but their treasured home is elsewhere. The timeless dimension where they live and work from, lies well beyond their separate identity. The mystic has surrendered their personal life story, with its time-bound conditioning, for something incomparably different. At some point, the mystic is loosened from the grip of maya or karma and tastes the liberating waters of their soul’s timeless flow in God. Getting there however, becomes a fiery alchemy as the timeless landscape of the mystic births itself into embodiment in the world around them. Who among us are willing to endure that level of alchemical heat? As Jesus says, “many are called, but few are chosen” (Matt. 22:14).
In September 2017 my spiritual teacher Thomas Hübl gave a six month on-line course called “Walking Forever.” This was the fourth in a series of courses called Mystical Principles where he taught principles of mystical embodiment. Hübl describes his basic teaching platform as the art of being “a mystic in the marketplace.” Also emphasizing an embodied mystical path, Jesus expresses a similar teaching as “We are to be in the world but not of the world. … its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (John 2:15-17). In both teachers we hear two primary mystical principles: one encourages us to take our mystical spirituality into the world rather than “hide-out” in a cave, mountain top, or behind the false safety of conditioned comforts (religious beliefs and/or possessions); and the other, is that we—as mystics—are walking forever through the grace of living in alignment with God-truth. Ladinsky states that “the glorious role of the mystical poets is to help us accept God more as He Is—and ever less than our prejudices and fears want Him to be” (2002, p. 211).
Whichever way we look at it, becoming a mystic is a radical process operating as it does outside of secular and religious reference points. For this reason, the mystic has not walked smoothly in the marketplace, being misunderstood and feared as they have been. Many mystics have been killed or otherwise threatened in their “coming out” or in sharing their elevated “walking forever” consciousness. Jim Garrison referenced Plato’s Cave Allegory in a recent Great Books lecture to highlight the threat awakened individuals impose on the status quo. As an awakened individual, the mystic’s message reduces the shadows on the back of the cave as ephemeral apparitions: “for this, Plato said, they will hang a good man on a tree” (Great Books lecture, May 14, 2019).
Being in touch with the timeless dimensions within us allows the mystic to act freely and independently of cultural influences. Their steadfast commitment to belonging first to God rather than to culture and family is their strength and their greatest gift to culture—however rarely it may be recognized. When perceived through the (spiritually) blinding lens of cultural conditioning, a mystic is unrecognizable even when they are standing right in front of us.
The timeless inner-landscape of the mystic stands apart from culture’s codes of communication and behaviour. A mystic communicates to serve God and not the shibboleth. The flavour of a mystic’s expression varies depending upon the focus of their awareness: they rejoice, pray, yearn, painfully burn, resist, stumble, discern, ridicule, and remain devoted to God first throughout all of it.
Listening to be Found
In a culture drenched in materialism and spiritual amnesia, the “ears to hear, or eyes to see” are a rare phenomenon indeed. The mystical experience is a unique invitation. It is unlike any other because it is an initiatory invitation. As Harvey reminds us, “known at the depths of human history Kabir mutated, he became, he went through the dimension that the whole human race is being called to” (Great Books lecture, April 9, 2019).
If sincerely engaged with, this fiery relationship pierces and expands the mystical heart lying dormant within us. In the heat of those flames, we become more of who we are in God and less of who our conditioning tells us we are. Our inner landscape is forged into an altered reality where we experience a feeling of “being known” in a more expanded or complete version of ourselves. It is as though simplicity and clarity increase exponentially as the deluded grandeur of “being the knower” recedes. Bruno Barnhart’s pithy observation addresses the rare quality of the mystic’s unguarded simplicity when he says that “most people prefer a manageable complexity to an unmanageable simplicity” (Barnhart, Camaldolese Monk, CA). Kabir’s advice to the seeker is similar:
Seeker, the simple union’s the best. Since the day when I met Him there has been no end to the joy of our love. I don’t shut my eyes. I don’t close my ears, I don’t mortify my body; I see with open eyes and smile and see His beauty everywhere (Harvey, 2018, p. 188).
Few spiritual seekers are able to live with the burning tension of not-knowing that deep listening requires. It is far safer for us to engage in spiritual seeking than spiritual finding because we are in control when we are “doing the doing” of seeking. Whereas the spiritual “finder” discovers increasing levels of their own nakedness and vulnerability as they rest in the palpable reality of “being found.” Sounding like a fiery gospel commandment and Kabir himself, Harvey encourages us:
Don’t just go on looking — dare to find! How? Offer your whole heart to the mystery, your longing to the mystery. Go Near Now to His Heart. Longing and Knowing is how you go near. God will teach you directly — it is the relationship itself with God that gives us exactly what we need (Great Books lecture, March 12, 2019).
The mystic knows that even the finding is not something they can credit themselves with because they have experienced the undeniable reality of “being found.” Thomas Keating described this highly personal divine-interchange as “divine therapy.” That which was seeking no longer exists because that impulse now rests in the merciful grace of being found. “There is no denial — the whole body, mind, heart is the transcendent offering; it is all from the source” as Harvey says (Great Books lecture, April 9, 2019) quoting Kabir: “Ram has come to live with me … How blessed I am” (2018, 172). As all hints of our previous “desire to find” dissolve, an overwhelming sense of abundant celebration emerges: “Sing out the wedding song! I’ve come home with Lord Ram … The beloved of my heart” (2018, 172).
The following quote is a description of a personal mystical experience of “being found”:
I was alone in my Vancouver kitchen on a rare sunny mid-November morning in 2012. While enjoying the everydayness of a cup of tea with family dog Rosie by my side, something substantial landed within my awareness. At this point in my life I had been facilitating Silence Practice groups for a couple of years following the completion of a 2010 Master’s Research thesis entitled “Surrendering to Silence: A Heart Centred Practice.” What I did not realize at the time, was the depth of commitment and consequent awakening this regular practice would initiate within me.
I had experienced many major and minor shifts in consciousness before, but this one had a solidity to it — like I had crossed a threshold of some kind. It seemed as though previous mystery-glimpses had