By Paul Ferrini from “The Silence of the Heart”
The greatest block to spiritual awakening is the pretension that there is no suffering in your life, that you have no pain. If you don’t feel pain in your life, you are either awakened or you are in denial.
I hate to burst your bubble, but I must tell you there are very few awakened beings on the planet and chances are you are not among them. I say this so that you can be realistic about your spiritual life.
Even though you have dulled the pain, being frozen in fear is hardly spiritual. Indeed, all psycho-emotional defenses you have built to protect yourself are just blocks to love’s presence. True, you built them to deter or withstand abuse, but they also deter love. They push love away. They close down your heart.
You see, you cannot awaken with a closed heart. The first step in the process of awakening is always “open your heart.” As soon as the heart is open, you will feel all the pain and shame you have intellectualized or repressed. It is inevitable.
Let it come. Let the pain come forth so that you may be cleansed and purified. If you continue to live with the pain, you will live a terribly limited life. Profound, seemingly overwhelming fears will move unconsciously in your psyche, preventing you from experiencing your true self or from opening up to genuine intimacy with others.
Let the pain come up. Let the heart be open. In feeling the pain, you begin to work it through. You see that it is not overwhelming. You see you can be with it without being destroyed. Feel the hurt, the anger, and the betrayal you never allowed yourself to feel as a child, or even as an adult. Let the repressed sense of violation come to the surface. You cannot cease being a victim until you get in touch with why you became one in the first place.
Get in touch with why you feel betrayed. Get in touch with the judgments you make about yourself. Go deeper and deeper until you see the self-betrayal and own it. No, don’t beat yourself for it. Just gently own it and grieve it fully.
It is a spiritual law that no one can betray you but you. Don’t settle for the victim role. It keeps you from experiencing all the pain of your self-betrayal. Let it all come up. Let the pain be released. Let the self judgment and attack be released. You have carried all this too long.
Very few people have done their own healing process. Even the ones who are out there trying to help others. Most of them too have not healed from within. They have not owned their own victim drama. How can they help you?
Others cannot help you. You must do this healing for yourself. If you need a coach, choose one who has traveled the road him or herself. And be careful; there are not many who have. If you look carefully, you can see if the darkness in them has been integrated or if they are still pushing it away.
Anyone who is afraid of his own darkness cannot move toward the light. Anyone who rejects his humanness and pretends to be completely of spirit is unintegrated and unwhole. Do not accept a wounded healer, even if he has an angelic name. Even if others think highly of him.
Find a coach with no agenda. One who can say: “Yes. I have been there. I know something of the terrain, but I do not know specifically what will happen for you. All I can do is accompany you, empower you to go deeply into the shadows, and see what happens. All I can do is be the ‘friend,’ not the expert.”
No one is the expert. There are simply those who have made the journey and those who have not. The former do not claim professional status. They have been humbled by their own journey. The latter make great claims, which shatter the first time they identify with you and their own buttons get pushed.
One who has made the journey to hell and back does not have sky fever. She is not of the fairy realm. She smells of fire and earth. She has undulations on her brow from centuries of occupation by water. Her beauty is of the earth. She is a weathered princess, a mother, not a virginal bride.
To resurrect, to rise into the sky, you must first meet the devil head on. If you keep looking for him in others, you will not find him. If you don’t believe in him, you haven’t bothered to look inside your own mind.
The devil is your own angelic presence defiled. It is all of your forgetting, all of your self-violation. It is the wounded one, the crucified one, the angel who has fallen from the sky into the muck, into the savage pull of worldly incarnation. He is you more than your fairy self is. Your fairy self is as thin as air. It is not of the earth. It cannot rise from that which it has never encountered.
The devil is of earth. Your ego mind is the creator of earth with all its manifest pain and beauty. Do not reject your creation before you have come to know it. Walk in the rain. Roast in the sun. Roll in the mud. Taste it fully. Do not try to leave the world before you are ready.
The urge to leave is the final addiction to pain. I must tell you frankly there is no place to go. This is it. You cannot move outside your own creation. You must move in it, be with it, and learn how to shift it.
God will not come as a savior to free you from a world of your own making. That is an old paradigm solution. It does not empower you. Even if it were possible, it would not be in your best interest.
God comes through your own gesture of acceptance toward your ego mind. He comes in the love and compassion you bring to the wounded one within and without. He comes when you reach down to embrace the dark wings that hover in front of the door of your fear.
These wings will not hurt you. No one is defiled no matter how great the hurt. No one is robbed of his or her innocence, no matter how much abuse has been given or received. See through the dark disguise and come into the warmth of these wings. There is a door here that leads straight to the heart. Come into your pain, sister.
You cannot come to God if you don’t go through the dark night of the soul. All your fear and shame must be raised. All your feelings of separation must come up for healing. How can you rise from the ashes of your pain unless you will acknowledge the pain?
Those who pretend that the wound is not there never begin the spiritual journey. Those who open the wound and beat themselves or others with it do not move beyond the first step in the healing process.
If you want to heal, remember, let the pain come up.
– Acknowledge the wound. Be with it and let it teach you.
– Feel the pain. Remember the violation.
– Forgive yourself.
– Be kind to yourself.
– See the perpetrator’s pain.
– See the attack as a call for love.
– Stand up for yourself now.
– Vow never to be a victim again.
– Vow never to betray yourself again.
– Understand you accepted pain because you wanted love and didn’t know how to get it.
– Say what you want now.
– Say no to violation.
– Learn to say no to what you do not want.
– Learn to say yes to what you do want.
– Do not confuse the two.
– Do not accept what does not feel good.
– Tell the truth, even if it means that others leave.
– Be firm. Be clear. Get on with your life.
– Be willing to feel your feelings and to let others know how you feel.
– Own what you feel and don’t make others responsible for it. There is no blame appropriate here, for you or anyone else.
Know that healing is a life-long process. There are more and more layers of abandonment that will come up. It is okay. Now you know you can feel the pain and move through it. Now you can have confidence in your healing journey.
You need not go looking for the darkness. It will come to you all by itself. Once you are willing to heal, the pain of the broken self automatically comes up. Fragments of the puzzle surface and the picture becomes clear. This doesn’t happen all at once.
Be patient. You can’t rush the process. Your healing has its own gentle pace. Stay with it. Don’t push too hard or you will go back into fear and freeze up. Just be willing to deal with each issue in the present moment.
This is what the spiritual path is all about. Healing our wounds. Healing our private pain by making it public. Confessing our shame. Finding our healing partners.
This is not work that can be done in a mountain cave. Withdrawal from life simply deadens the senses. It is neither advantageous or necessary.
The shortest path to enlightenment is the one that moves directly through our hearts. Through our relationships. Through our pain and our grief and our fear. It seems not to be a path of dignity, yet it is the most dignified path of all. In it dark wings become illumined and the darkness begets its own healing power. For, in the darkness, we are nurtured and prepared. From that dark womb we go forward toward the light.
Without it, we would not be born.
Without it, we cannot be born again.