Currently, I’m re-reading Bernadette Roberts’s book, What is Self?

One criticism I have of her writings is essentially that, while she goes on at length to explain what exactly Christ and God are, and moreover, what exactly “self” means according to her terminology, the book doesn’t exactly explain what one is supposed to do.

Other readers and some who have attended her retreats have mentioned on websites that they can summarize what they think she’d recommend doing, such as continuing to participate in the Holy Eucharist. With no doubt, the reception of Christ in the Holy Eucharist and its importance to my approach to Christianity was highly influenced by her. This is where the core energy of Christianity is, where it lays, where it’s always been: in the Body and Blood of Christ.

Sufism, too, has been, in part, a let down for me, but the difference is that Sufism doesn’t distract me in the intellectual way that Christianity does. Instead, I’m capable of simply living out the Longing and Love for God, but the problem comes in being able to access that sense of Longing and Love; the lower chakras take up a huge amount of my own personal energy with their damage and traumas and darkness, so for energy to even make it to my heart chakra to create love is amazing.

Love is not limited to one chakra, though; neither are many emotions. This is something that I’ve rarely seen mentioned; one can feel longing in an intellectual sense, in the higher chakras, though this seems counterintuitive to what we would image, and love can also be experienced in the solar plexus chakra. There’s no end to the amazing things one discovers.

But to the point, Sufism, as I have known it, as de-emphasized the lower chakras in favor of the heart chakra. Michael and Kelly made a similar criticize of how modern systems talk about focusing on just the third eye chakra, which one cannot access without going through the lower chakras, and I would daresay this is my own experience, though others may experience things differently.

My first thought about the reason for focusing on the heart chakra and on the third eye chakra is that they’re likely purer than the lower chakras; to awaken the third eye chakra allows a kind of clarity of what the reality in the lower chakras is. Summarily, the lower chakras store old emotional imprints, largely dealing with childhood trauma that became our “template” for interacting with other people, and thus when we encounter those emotions and feelings, we can misinterpret them, or they can be stored in such a way that it affects our bodies negatively.

Going back just a little, Bernadette might well simply point us to the contemplative tradition and to the Holy Eucharist- in fact, I would largely say that these are the two essentials of her take on Christianity. In layman’s terms, we have to meditate and go receive the Holy Eucharist faithfully.

The reality is that if the Roman Catholic Church knew what she was saying, she would likely be excommunicated, plain and simple- especially if her works were to gain any kind of major influence in the Church. She says highly heretical things, many times sounding more Gnostic than Catholic, and she interprets Christian teachings in a radical sort of way while throwing out a lot of the garbage in Christianity. What I mean to express here is that Bernadette doesn’t seem to think Christian teachings are perfect and pure just the way they are, even going so far as to state the Creed is worded incorrectly.

For a clarification of Christianity, for its redemption from what most of the religionists use it as these days, What is Self? is more than adequate, but it doesn’t tell us what to do.

In the same way, Sufism doesn’t explain what to do with the Shadow. I hear a great deal of discussion about the Shadow, about integrating psychology from Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee. What I’ve failed to hear is how to actually do this.

Llewellyn does give a great hint of sorts: the same consciousness that created a problem cannot solve that problem. Thus, the entity and person who created a psycho-spiritual block in our chakras cannot solve it; that is, my best guess is that the level of the mind on which the blockage was created cannot cleanse it. Instead, one must go deeper.

But how do you get a psychological block in one’s chakras to give up its meaning, to explain to you what the actual block is? Maybe it manifests as an eating disorder, as sexual dysfunction, as tiredness, as being prone to illness; how do you get it to tell you exactly what it is and then change how you feel?

That, I think, is the basic and intense psychological work that must be done before we ever get around to the nitty-gritty of discussing things such as the afterlife or the soul, much less self-development and so on.

Bernadette makes a good point: we must not simply try to avoid sinning, we must rid ourselves of any capacity to sin whatsoever, and that’s where Christianity fails as a system. We are told that God will forgive us, over and over again, and that we must try not to sin, but the whole point is that the capacity to sin still exists, and our animal instincts will compel us to do things that we would rather not do at times.

She points out the fact that the Hindu systems seem to suggest the problem is intellectual: if we only saw that the ego is not real and what it is doing to make us unhappy, we would lose it. She criticizes this point a length, yet here I will point out that Vineeto at the Actual Freedom Trust actually said something similar to this. Of course, that would be depicting the AF system poorly and in an oversimplified manner, and for all its flaws and so on, I don’t mean to misrepresent it.

Had I not read something by Osho that said the exact thing that Bernadette did, I would have thought her point grossly oversimplified, but she does explain things in great detail.

I think the issue is this: feelings are the real problem. Our emotional system is vastly more powerful than our intellect, and therefore, thinking something over and over again will not necessarily change damage done at an early age. To exemplify, chanting an affirmation again and again at age 45 will not heal damage done at age 5 unless the affirmation actually changes one’s emotions.

The issue is not just thought restructuring: the issue is emotional restructuring, and for what it’s worth, our modern psychotherapy is absolutely atrocious at this. This explains why my being in therapy for two years did almost zilch to help my social anxiety and that the anxiety that decreased almost always seemed to happen on its own and not because of anything the therapist said or did.

Some people were under the impression that I did better when I was in therapy; I disagree with them. Ultimately what I gather is that people believe that therapy really works well and that my being in therapy was really helping me along. This is not to say that the therapy was completely worthless, but it did show me the limitations of therapy as a whole, and I think the issues I have must be dealt with by someone who actually knows how to heal emotions and not with someone who thinks thinking is where it’s at.

Arguably this happens in mysticism as a whole anyway, but the problem is that it’s cumbersome. Incredibly cumbersome. There don’t seem to be any specific milestones that each person passes through, which is to say that “stage theories” are useless. Sure, we can create a general map, but that map can manifest in wide and varied experiences for each person, so that doesn’t help at all.

I can tell you very well that my main problem is fear, fear of judgment from others, fear of public humiliation. Fear, period. Were I not afraid and not afraid at all, I would have accomplished more in this world than any other person I know. But the fear has held me back, and there’s not necessarily a way to simply stop being afraid. The mind is quite talented at fooling us into thinking that we no longer have fear or doubts or whatever until we are faced with the situation, and then boom, reality sets in.

Dustin, who may as well be dead to me, would respond, “We can’t survive on this level without fear.” FUCK THAT. I would rather die unafraid than to live my life in fear, and on top of that, I think it’s a stupid sentiment to say that we would simply die if we never felt fear. I’m not a blithering idiot. There is a distinction between, say, the torment and suffering caused by the emotion of fear and the body’s instinctual pull away from a hot flame, and he failed to make such a distinction.

This blog has been awfully long, almost equivalent to the length of a chapter in one of my books. That’s because I’ve been working on it for over two hours, off and on, stopping to cook and chat in the middle of it and entirely forgetting about it at other points.

The ultimate point is that I’ve stumbled, in one way or another, on to my own kundalini in a more controlled way than before. Though my second chakra still needs to be “cleaned’ and the blocks released, I’ve found ways to channeling the power through the rest of my body. Maybe all the mystical practices I’ve done before has lead up to this, I’m not sure.

I am aware that at the time I stopped saying the dhikr, an entire crisis erupted in my life, the remains of which I’m still feeling. So the truth is that I learned in the past half year or so that even if one doesn’t immediately see the results and benefits of a practice, they certainly exist. This has been mentioned here before, I’m sure, but I thought I would repeat myself as it fit contextually.

If I had a bit more certainty, if I was even released from anxiety, I think I would have less of an issue at this point. Even the erasure of anxiety without the erasure of the entire “self” would be enough for my own happiness, I think.

God…or Whatever…help.

Beaux


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