The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. (I would recommend you start with Chapter 1 if you haven’t already read it.) I hope my words are a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, you can do so on my production company website Pandora’s Box Office.
From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.
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Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.
‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire–and thus having fun. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”
7. The Two Tribes
The first inhabitants of the island of Allandon were a primitive tribe known as the ‘sitting tribe’. Their main activity was to sit and experience the peace and harmony of nature. They gave thanks to the Great Spirits for all that they had, and prayed and made sacrifices in order to continue receiving abundance from the Earth.
One fine day, one of the tribesmen discovered the secret to making fire. He became able to produce fire whenever it was needed. For the first time, the people of the tribe did not have to call upon the Lightning Spirit to make a fire.
This discovery led to a division of the tribe into two factions: one faction stayed with the traditional ways, continuing to pray to the Spirits for all that they needed, including fire. The other faction believed that since they now knew how to make a fire on their own, they could make other discoveries as well if they looked hard for them. The new tribe would no longer sit around; they started to run about the island to see what other secrets they could uncover. And so they became known as the running tribe. They began to lose their reverence for nature and the order of things, for they felt they could create a new order. Discoveries were made, one by one, that helped the running tribe wean off their dependence on the Great Spirits, until one day the running tribe doubted the Great Spirits even existed.
When I was young, I was very much focused on material life. The spirituality that was available to me had very little impact. My parents took us to church every Sunday, but it never made sense to me or my brother or sister. I found it deathly dull and ritualistic. Stand, sit, kneel, repeat a phrase, and so on. The only thing I found interesting was the Gospel, not just because it was near the end of the service, but because it often featured Jesus speaking one of his parables.
But I had no desire for church, found no fulfillment from it, and would be happy to miss it any chance I could get. It seems like most of the people my age felt the same way at the time. I don’t think it was just because we were young. I think that going to church wasn’t really meeting our deeper needs. Church seemed like some kind of punishment for sins you might do, or some kind of duty to a God who for some reason seemed to care whether we went to church or not. There was a sense that going to church was a form of paying moral dues. The running joke was that once people had collected their holy bread and said their final amen, they would revert back to a purely material focus for the rest of the week.
My mother had been taught in school by the nuns and was a fairly devout church-goer, and my father was quite religious as well. However when I got into my teens things started to change. We would miss church here and there for no urgent reason. My father was becoming more critical of priests whose words no longer inspired him, and he began taking us to different churches in search of what he felt was missing. He had started reading about Edgar Cayce and the writings of channeler Jane Roberts, and his views were slowly changing. Finally one day, he declared to the family that he didn’t want to go to church any more. He gave each of us the choice as to what we wanted to do, and to my mother’s dismay, we all gleefully said that we didn’t want to go to church any more either. I remember it as one of the happiest days of my youth.
By the time I got to university, I called myself an atheist. It seemed to be the only reasonable position to hold. I associated atheism with intellectual integrity. It seemed to me that religion was tantamount to superstition, and the Marxian claim that ‘religion is the opium of the people’ rang true to my ears. No wonder Nietzsche’s pronouncement that ‘God is dead’ had such appeal to me at that time.
To me this parallels a trend within Western history in general, where material life has split off from spiritual life to such an extent that it has become possible to live from a purely materialistic point of view. Western civilization is relatively ‘modern’ when we consider that more ancient human societies from Eastern civilization such as Sumer in southern Mesopotamia date as far back as 6000 years ago. Western civilization arose nearby in Greece around the 5th Century B.C., during the period known as the Classical Age of Greece. At this time, the Greek mind made its definitive break from traditional Eastern wisdom as a result of a steady flow of philosophical inquiry that culminated in one of the true watershed moments of human history: the refinement of rational thought. Socrates, the famous philosopher who developed the Socratic method of question, hypothesis and testing for contradiction, used to go around Athens embarrassing all the intellectuals of the time by showing them they really didn’t know what they thought they knew. Though he used his method primarily in dialogues dealing with moral concepts, it was to be the forerunner of the scientific method and the concept of objective truth itself.
It wasn’t until about two thousand years later, though, with the Scientific Revolution in Europe, that the scientific method exploded Western society into completely uncharted territory. During the Scientific Revolution, there was of course no such thing as a ‘scientist’. Pioneers such as Johannes Kepler and Nicholas Copernicus were considered ‘natural philosophers’. Their business was to study the natural world and, in a way, their main motivation was to come to a better understanding of the mysterious workings of the Creator. Perhaps it was the idea attributed to Copernicus, that the Sun does not revolve around the Earth but rather the opposite, that got science to start spinning about a different axis. Suddenly, the Earth was not considered the center of the universe.
This proposition did not sit well with the powerful Roman Catholic Church of post-Renaissance Europe. Suddenly these ‘natural philosophers’ were showing proof of things that contradicted some of the most basic and well-accepted tenets of Christianity. In Italy, thinkers such as Galileo and Da Vinci had to be very careful about what they said, lest they be accused of blaspheming against the church. In fact, it was only Galileo’s close connection with the Pope and his willingness to recant his support for Copernicus that prevented authorities from putting him to death.
As scared as some of the natural philosophers were, so too the church authorities had fears about how the church could be weakened by these new theories and the growing power of rational thought. During this time of great turmoil a ‘line in the sand’ slowly emerged between the proponents of science and those of the church: science could concern itself with the practical matters of the physical world, but it would leave to the church all spiritual matters in the metaphysical world. While religion continued on in one direction supported by tradition, science went completely in the opposite direction supported by rigorous inquiry and the search for objective truth. There was now no turning back.
With the later development of Newton’s laws, there emerged a mechanistic view of the universe, which could be seen as a well-oiled machine capable of running itself on eternal physical laws. Suddenly, for the first time, it was possible to see a universe in which God did not necessarily need to play a part. Previous to that, it was widely accepted that planetary motion proved the existence of God—there needed to be a ‘prime mover’. Now, it became possible, indeed reasonable, to begin to explain the universe and all life in purely material terms. The brain, the body, the universe, life itself, could all be explained mechanistically, as though each component of our world were simply a distinct and sophisticated machine.
When Charles Darwin brought forth his theory of evolution, the schism between the material and spiritual world-view was nearly complete. The Biblical notion of Creation itself was brought into question. Proponents of objective scientific inquiry now felt confident that eventually each of the world’s great mysteries would be revealed in material terms, replacing much of what they now saw as a superstitious mysticism that had ruled mankind during a time of greater ignorance. The only limitation to our complete understanding and objectifying of the universe would be the technology to perform the experiments and measure the results. If it could not be perceived by our senses, or even more precisely by the scientific machines which were getting ever more accurate and effective, then for all intents and purposes it wasn’t real. It became possible to believe that there was nothing else to the universe but matter in its various forms.
And so the schism that began in ancient Greece has ever widened, setting today’s Western world in direct opposition with its Eastern ancestry. The legacy we have grown up with is a society in which the rational mind is favored over the intuitive mind, and matter is seen as more real than spirit. The Ego Self that separates us from each other is revered while the Dao Self that brings us together has been forgotten. There is a scene in the movie Seven Years in Tibet that perfectly distinguishes the different approaches to life of Eastern and Western societies. Brad Pitt plays a world-famous Austrian mountaineer who has stumbled into Tibet with a fellow climber. As the two men compete for the affections of a beautiful Tibetan girl, Pitt tries to impress her by showing her a scrapbook of his celebrated mountain climbing achievements. The girl’s rebuff is at once gentle and powerful: “This is another great difference between our civilization and yours. You admire the man who pushes his way to the top in any walk of life, while we admire the man who abandons his ego.”
Where one society applauds those individuals who rise above and attempt to reach new heights, the other encourages their members to maintain their place. Traditional Eastern civilizations like Tibet are holistic; they strive to align themselves to the greater totality, to nature and the established order of things. They see the divine as present in everything at all times, and so they consider interconnectedness to be the ultimate truth of existence. The Hindu greeting ‘Namaste’ reflects this belief, as it means ‘I honor in you the divine that I honor within myself and I know that we are one.’ The individual and the Ego Self are recognized as part of the human condition but are ultimately illusions. Life consists in working to transcend these powerful illusions so that one can fully be in the presence of the One, the Dao.
Western civilization, on the other hand, could be deemed atomistic; its vision is that things are as they appear, separate and distinct, and these separate things are prone to be in conflict with one another. Nature and the established order of things is something that is to be overcome. This idea is not challenged by religious orthodoxy in the West but rather is fully supported by it. In the Bible’s book of Genesis, God instructs man to ‘fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds in the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ The implications of this directive have proven quite far-reaching. Rather than developing the ability to live better in communion with nature, Western civilization has been built upon the conquest of the natural landscape, where the imprint of man-made structures is now indelibly stamped. The proclamation by the Greek philosopher Protagoras during the Classical Age that ‘man is the measure of all things’ would prove to be one of the underlying themes of the rise of Western Civilization to prominence in the world.
Believing that man is above the ecosystem of the planet rather than a part of it, it should come as no surprise that Western man has slowly pushed Mother Nature dangerously out of balance through sheer exploitation and neglect. With our modern machines that can strip, excavate, and bombard the planet at an ever-accelerating rate, the danger has only been exacerbated. We have caused more damage to the natural world in the past hundred years than in our entire history before that, and it’s getting worse exponentially. Today we are in a crisis that threatens our very existence.
One reason for this is because historically it has not been a great strength of the Western mind to question the broader implications of its approach. Being grounded in the Ego Self and outwardly-focused, there has been very little self-reflection about the wisdom of an incessant push to modernize, to progress, to conquer. Western Imperialists had little doubt in their minds that their modern ideology was the pinnacle of human civilization. And there was certainly nothing that they thought they had to learn from any culture that was mired in outmoded traditions of the past.
Wherever it clashed with more traditional cultures, Western man was convinced that it would be in the other culture’s best interests to adopt a modern Western perspective, and let go of their hapless, infantile, savage ways. The dealings of the European settlers with the Native Americans is a striking example. They imposed their way of life in the New World and, while they could argue that they acted justly, one must remember that at best this was ‘justice’ from a purely Western perspective. Western ways made no sense to the natives, and in the end the natives had little choice in the way their fundamental disputes would be worked out. In 1854 Western settlers offered the embattled Native Americans $150,000 for two million acres of prime land in America. Here was Chief Seattle’s response:
If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?
Every part of this earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every clearing and humming insect is holy in the memory and experience of my people. The sap which courses through the trees carries the memories of the red man.
The white man’s dead forget the country of their birth when they go to walk among the stars. Our dead never forget this beautiful earth, for it is the mother of the red man. We are part of the earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters; the deer, the horse, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadows, the body heat of the pony, and man—all belong to the same family.
So, when the Great Chief in Washington sends word that he wishes to buy our land, he asks much of us. The Great Chief sends word he will reserve us a place so that we can live comfortably to ourselves. He will be our father and we will be his children.
So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water’s murmur is the voice of my father’s father.
The rivers are our brothers, they quench our thirst. The rivers carry our canoes, and feed our children. If we sell you our land, you must remember, and teach your children, that the rivers are our brothers and yours, and you must henceforth give the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.
We know that the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it, he moves on. He leaves his father’s grave behind, and he does not care. He kidnaps the earth from his children, and he does not care. His father’s grave, and his children’s birthright are forgotten. He treats his mother, the earth, and his brother, the sky, as things to be bought, plundered, sold like sheep or bright beads. His appetite will devour the earth and leave behind only a desert.
I do not know. Our ways are different than your ways. The sight of your cities pains the eyes of the red man. There is no quiet place in the white man’s cities. No place to hear the unfurling of leaves in spring or the rustle of the insect’s wings. The clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lonely cry of the whippoorwill or the arguments of the frogs around the pond at night? I am a red man and do not understand. The Indian prefers the soft sound of the wind darting over the face of a pond and the smell of the wind itself, cleaned by a midday rain, or scented with pinon pine.
The air is precious to the red man for all things share the same breath, the beast, the tree, the man, they all share the same breath. The white man does not seem to notice the air he breathes. Like a man dying for many days he is numb to the stench. But if we sell you our land, you must remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports.
The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also receives his last sigh. And if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred as a place where even the white man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow’s flowers.
So we will consider your offer to buy our land. If we decide to accept, I will make one condition—the white man must treat the beasts of this land as his brothers.
I am a savage and do not understand any other way. I have seen a thousand rotting buffaloes on the prairie, left by the white man who shot them from a passing train. I am a savage and do not understand how the smoking iron horse can be made more important than the buffalo that we kill only to stay alive.
What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected.
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves.
This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected.
Even the white man, whose God walks and talks with him as friend to friend, cannot be exempt from the common destiny. We may be brothers after all. We shall see. One thing we know which the white man may one day discover; our God is the same God.
You may think now that you own Him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and His compassion is equal for the red man and the white. The earth is precious to Him, and to harm the earth is to heap contempt on its creator. The whites too shall pass; perhaps sooner than all other tribes. Contaminate your bed and you will one night suffocate in your own waste.
But in your perishing you will shine brightly fired by the strength of the God who brought you to this land and for some special purpose gave you dominion over this land and over the red man.
That destiny is a mystery to us, for we do not understand when the buffalo are all slaughtered, the wild horses are tamed, the secret corners of the forest heavy with the scent of many men and the view of the ripe hills blotted by talking wires.
Where is the thicket? Gone. Where is the eagle? Gone.
The end of living and the beginning of survival.
Today, over 150 years later, these words have never been more poignant. In a society where our sense of the sacred has been splintered off from our material lives and compacted into once-weekly ritual, the consequences of our alienation from each other can no longer surprise us. Our search for the spiritual experience of connectedness that Chief Seattle speaks about has become ever more desperate. Our hunger to feel part of something bigger than ourselves is growing. Up to now our material decadence may have fed us, but more and more it is fueling our fear of the night when we will suffocate in our own waste. In the West we have awakened to the implications of continuing to plow forward, but we are surely not eager to go backwards. Where does that leave us?
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Manifesting Your Vision Through “The Law of Attraction”
The Law of Attraction is based on the principle that all matter is made up of pure energy, which is in a constant state of vibration and spin.
The LOA implies that thoughts and emotions are also energy, each having a unique energy signature. Every energetic frequency is in a constant state of attraction or repulsion with all others. With the recent emergence of quantum mechanics, this notion has been largely supported at a micro level.
The Law of Attraction states that “like attracts like,” and we are in a constant state of creating our reality through the energy we emit in the form of thoughts and emotion. We continuously interact with the fabric of reality (or quantum field), through thought and emotional energy, and whatever we focus on is likely to manifest. We are each creators of our own reality, and what we put out is what we will attract.
3 Things You Need to Know First
1. A key factor missing from the LOA is that we are creating on both a conscious and subconscious level. This accounts for the seeming contradiction between “opposites attract” and the major principle of LOA, “like attracts like.”
We are still attracting the part of the whole that has been splintered and repressed into the subconscious mind. Basically, the actively repressed traits within ourselves are still charged, and this suppressed energy is also a point of attraction. Until we acknowledge and integrate it, it will still play a role in the creation of our external reality.
2. Our belief systems alter our manifestation process. If you want to manifest $10,000 in one week, but your underlying beliefs are largely identified with a state of lack, you will only manifest more lack.
This is because Law of Attraction works with both thought and emotion, and if you try to think your way into something that you don’t believe, your emotional reaction will support your unconscious beliefs more than your conscious thoughts.
If you try to affirm, “I will be abundant,” but don’t believe it, those beliefs will surface via an emotional response that insinuates the opposite feeling. At that point, you are literally putting the gas and the breaks on at the same time, making manifestation very difficult.
One great tip to overcome this, as stated by Abraham Hicks, is to “start general, and then get specific” with your manifestation process. Start with what you can believe, and continue to expand as you see evidence of your manifestations taking place. This allows your thoughts and emotions to be in resonance rather than dissonance.
3. We are always manifesting according to our highest values. Renowned behavioural development specialist Dr. DeMartini (who was also featured in The Secret) discovered that we all have an inherent set of values that is largely governing our behaviour. DeMartini is quoted as saying, “All of our actions are strategies to align with our values as efficiently as possible,” along with, “all of our positive and negative emotions are feedback as to whether or not we are living in our highest values.” Essentially, the things we value the most filter our perception at a subconscious level. They are governing the way that we manifest, and the reasons we do.
This is why, for example, someone might set a new year’s resolution to lose weight and never achieve their goal. If one of their highest values is social connection, their unconscious will perceive that taking the time to exercise and eat right actually conflicts with the time they would rather be spending at social events with others.
The trick, then, is to change your perception by tying in how exercise and diet actually support your high value on social connection. For example, you might feel more confident meeting new people when you are healthy and strong. Or you can approach it from the other end by tying your value into your goal. In this case, you could try to engage your value of social connection by going to the gym or to nutrition classes with your close friends.
What You Need to Know During Active Manifestation
These are some useful tips if you are meditating on your vision, or practicing visualization.
Clear your mind. To speed up the process of manifestation, presence and focus are key. If your attention is scattered, your manifestation will be too. Write down on paper whatever is bothering you, and vow to leave it outside of your visualization. This will help you stay present.
Open your heart for the process. Connect with the feeling of gratitude as you begin. This can be done by writing a short gratitude list, or by thinking of people/events that you are truly grateful for.
According to the HeartMath Institute, “The heart generates an electromagnetic field roughly 60 times greater in amplitude than brainwaves do.” This field is measured by an electrocardiogram (ECG), and brainwaves were measured using an electroencephalogram (EEG) during these findings. The heart is a major point of attraction.
Be clear. The law of attraction is described as a law. This means it responds to everything, without exception. If you are mixed in your emotions or vision, it will slow the process. The clearer and more detailed you are, the faster your vision will come to life.
Engage your senses. Did you know that the brain can’t actually tell the difference between experience and visualization? This is why visualization is so useful for athletes. This principle applies directly to the LOA. What do you see, hear, smell, touch, and feel when you have arrived at your vision? Feel each sense distinctly, and don’t be afraid to sit with each one individually.
Engage emotion. This is how to charge your vision. Emotions are the driving force behind manifestation.
Align your intention with your values. Tie what you want to manifest into your highest values. More simply put, make sure you can see how your goals support the things that matter most to you in life. This will help you manifest congruently from both the conscious and subconscious mind.
Don’t be desperate. Try to imagine that you are gently requesting. If you are being needy or desperate in your request, you are coming directly from an emotional space of lack. The emotional feeling of lack will counteract your thought-energy, and you are more likely to stagnate.
What You Need to Know After
Take action. Taking action will create momentum, while also building evidence toward creating the belief that your manifestation is unfolding.
Act as if it has already happened. “I AM” is a creative, powerful phrase. If you conduct your behaviour as the person you have already become, you are more energetically aligned with your goal.
Be aware of your internal dialogue. Remember, you are in a constant state of attracting or repulsing what it is that you want to achieve. Your internal dialogue is always creating a point of attraction, along with the emotional reactions it produces. Be congruent!
Allow! You must fully release your vision in order for it to manifest. If you are too attached to it, your need for control can actually stunt the process. Faith and belief in the process are key. It can be helpful to think in terms of being at a restaurant. Once you’ve placed your order, you have to give it time to be cooked up and served to you!
We are all creators, and we all deserve to live an inspired life. The Law of Attraction is a beautiful tool that enables us to consciously put our creative powers to use! In the words of George Bernard Shaw, “Life isn’t about finding yourself, it’s about creating yourself.”
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My Thoughts On “Spiritual Narcissism”
- The Facts:
Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Is this happening to many in spiritual trends?
- Reflect On:
There is authentic being, and then there is self-absorption which pretending to be authenticity, are we aware of the difference?
We humans often have a hard time finding middle ground. We may be drowning in lack of self-worth one moment, and trampling over other’s with our own self indulgence the next as we struggle to find balance. Narcissism is not simply about enjoying selfies in our social media-saturated world, it goes deeper than that.
It appears as liberation but is a trap that can ruin relationships, increase personal suffering, and keep a person from their true spiritual aspirations. Not surprisingly, increased mindfulness and compassion for this tricky human quirk is the best way to heal it.
What is Spiritual Narcissism?
The capacity to become overly self-indulgent is within all of us, and it becomes increasingly dangerous when we confuse it with spirituality. In many ways it is easy to see that all of humanity is dealing with a certain degree of self-absorption while we desecrate forests and oceans, causing plants and animals to go extinct on our material quests. In his famous book, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism, Chogyam Trungpa gave a good foundation for westerners to navigate the pitfalls of our materialistic abundance.
We do not have to be ashamed of what we are. As sentient beings we have wonderful backgrounds. These backgrounds may not be particularly enlightened or peaceful or intelligent. Nevertheless, we have soil good enough to cultivate; we can plant anything in it. – Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism
There is a difference between ego-self and the deeper universal soul within us, differentiating the two is important. Sadly, we have spiritual philosophies and religions that have been constructed to feed the ego, inflate self-righteousness, and create division while giving justification for all manner of activities including killing, exploitation, and oppression. Ethical conduct, regardless of spirituality, requires honoring the other and the self as one with each deserving to be respected, heard, and seen with compassion.
No matter what the practice or teaching, ego loves to wait in ambush to appropriate spirituality for its own survival and gain. – Chögyam Trungpa,
Finding the Antidote to Self-absorption
Narcissism, in a nutshell, is self-absorption to the extent that it will adopt any set of rationale to protect the ego which often includes a degree of self-deception. Ego is an important aspect of our selves, it is part of self-preservation but when it becomes out of balance it actually has the ability to destroy us and harm relationships.
Many spiritual practices seek to increase our ability to witness and bring mindful awareness to ego drives which allow us to master, instead of being enslaved by our ego. When ego gets too big it can be hard to swallow, yet spiritual liberation invites us to expand our sense of self beyond the ego, beyond time and space.
The goal is to find a balance between the inner experience and the outer reality. How do we embody healthy self-love without becoming an ego-maniac and hurting personal relationships? Meanwhile, self-loathing, and low self-esteem are also manifestations of ego out of balance. Selflessness can often be quite selfish, over-engagement can be as problematic as disengagement socially. Luckily we are here to find this balance through living fully, from making mistakes, and evolving our sense of self-awareness. Healthy self-awareness is the only antidote to self-absorption.
The Story of Narcissus and Echo
One day Narcissus was walking in the woods when Echo, an Oread (mountain nymph) saw him, fell deeply in love, and followed him. Narcissus sensed he was being followed and shouted “Who’s there?”. Echo repeated “Who’s there?”. She eventually revealed her identity and attempted to embrace him. He stepped away and told her to leave him alone. She was heartbroken and spent the rest of her life in lonely glens until nothing but an echo sound remained of her. Nemesis, the goddess of revenge, learned of this story and decided to punish Narcissus. She lured him to a pool where he saw his own reflection. He didn’t realize it was only an image and fell in love with it. He eventually recognized that his love could not be reciprocated and committed suicide. -Wikipedia
Since intention is subjective, a person is often understood within their community by their actions or image. This becomes extra tricky in our age of social media and the materialism that has found it’s way into yoga, meditation, and spirituality. It is possible to put on a good act, to fool those around us and ourselves (temporarily).
We can have the latest yoga clothes, read the right books and hang out with all the “cool” people, but if our actions are not grounded in a deeper spiritual practice, basic consideration for others, and respect, it is still hollow. A common analogy is the guy who everyone likes but then goes home kicks his dog, or is rude and unaccountable to his wife.
Deep spirituality makes us more sensitive to the feeling of others, encouraging an open stance of courage where we can drop our protective shields and accept the vulnerability to be seen as we are. Narcissistic sensitivity, however, is focused solely on the subtle nuances one’s own internality, and resists looking at hard, uncomfortable truths that may upset the self image. One who is narcissistically sensitive is easily offended by the “coarseness” of others, seeks to make his environment change to align with the contours of his needs, and gets angry or offended when this does not happen. -The Allure of Narcissistic Spirituality, Huffington Post
How to Identify Narcissistic Behavior
The ability to identify narcissistic behavior in yourself and others is the best way to heal it. It is not your job to diagnose others or tell them they are narcissistic if they are not interested in hearing it or healing it. However, if you draw appropriate boundaries for them you will protect yourself and encourage them to become more mindful. This is a loving and compassionate way to handle narcissism.
It is always healthy to make boundaries and speak your truth in a loving and compassionate way. Whether the narcissist hears it or not is out of your control. Common responses from narcissists will include belittling your feelings, a hollow apology without effort to modify behavior, or ignoring you altogether. Basically, they will use any excuse they can in order to not look at it, or to make the situation your fault. This is your cue to make appropriate boundaries for yourself.
Within yourself be open and receptive when others tell you that you have been inconsiderate of them. Accepting constructive feedback from loved ones is a great way to keep a balance between internal needs and external relationships. This is also how we grow as individuals.
Common traits of narcissism courtesy of BPD Central.
- Lacks empathy: is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
- Has a grandiose sense of self-importance (e.g., exaggerates achievements and talents, expects to be recognized as superior without commensurate achievements)
- Has a sense of entitlement, i.e., unreasonable expectations of especially favorable treatment or automatic compliance with his or her expectations
- Is interpersonally exploitative, i.e., takes advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
- Is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
- Requires excessive admiration
- Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes
- Believes that he or she is “special” and unique and can only be understood by, or should associate with, other special or high-status people (or institutions)
- Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
Evolving Unhealthy Patterns
Hopefully, this will help you navigate tough interpersonal relationships and also better yourself. It is a beautiful thing that psychology is allowing us to have terms to identify and evolve unhealthy patterns emotionally. As we learn to live in community, we learn many aspects of love. This is how we help ourselves and those around us grow!
I’m republishing, for the CE audience, this piece I wrote for Uplift Connect.
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New Moon In Libra: Seeking Balance
We are having a New Moon in Libra on October 16th throughout most of the world and in the morning of the 17th in the East. This is initiating a 29.5 day lunar cycle and new wave of energy for the coming month; however, the astrological configurations mentioned in this article will be more prominent over the following two weeks. This cycle will include a Full Moon in Taurus on October 31st/November 1st.
This New Moon occurs days after we have reached the halfway point of Mars’ retrograde in Aries which concludes mid-November. It is also days after Mercury began its retrograde which is currently in Scorpio and moving backwards into Libra before it moves forward again post November 3rd. Both of these planets being retrograde at the same time reflects a period of significant adjustments pertaining to how we express these planets, the signs they are in, and how they are configured to our individual astrological blueprints (natal chart).
Generally Mars retrogrades are a period in which the circumstances, developments, and our inner guidance is helping to facilitate a shift in how we apply ourselves and take action in specific areas of our lives. This is something that happens approximately every two years, which is less frequent and usually more significant than Mercury’s retrogrades. I wrote separate articles for each of them, you can read more about Mars Retrograde here and Mercury Retrograde here.
Libra season began on September 22nd/23rd, just over three weeks prior to this Lunation, and will end on October 22nd/23rd when Scorpio season begins. However, this New Moon (along with other planets) will still carry some of its Libra themes into the first week of Scorpio season prior to the Full Moon.
This is a good period of working with and co-creating with the energies of this sign. As an Air sign, Libra is socially and mentally oriented. Ruled by Venus, it is associated with relating, relationships, charm, harmony, compromising, art, creativity, and aesthetics. There is a big focus on others. Libra is also diplomatic as it seeks to find balance, equality, fairness, and common ground.
Negatively, Libra can be overly codependent, passive aggressive, superficial, insincere, indecisive, vain, and judgemental. Although this sign is about politeness and harmony, retaliation can be triggered when imbalance and unfairness is perceived. Libra is also associated with people-pleasing which can have either positive or negative implications.
New Moon Aligned With Spica, In A Hard T-Square Pattern
This New Moon has an interesting mix of energies. It is tightly aligned with the fixed star Spica which is known to be the most benefic and fortunate star. However, it can be tricky to interpret how a star’s energy can manifest, especially in this case considering other astrological factors that are quite different.
Like Libra, Spica is connected to art and creativity, but also has spiritual, scientific, and inventive qualities. It is associated with harvest season and represents the ‘gifts of harvest’, both metaphorically and literally. However, it can also reflect unfruitfulness (depending on other variables) and injustice to innocence according to legendary astrologer Vivian Robson.
This New Moon is opposite Mars Retrograde in Aries which are both in a T-square with Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn. The Sun has been in an opposition with Mars in the week before this New Moon (peaking on the 13th/14th) which has been a significant part of the Mars retrograde process in influencing how we assert ourselves.
However, this energy is also configured into this New Moon and can play out as conflicts (internally or externally with others), impulsiveness, aggression, anger, competitiveness, or sexual tension. Mars in Aries wants to assert individuality, ego, personal needs, and self identity while the New Moon in Libra is looking for consideration, common ground, diplomacy, equality, and fairness.
This opposition in a square to Jupiter, Pluto, and Saturn in Capricorn can reflect power struggles, obstacles, and issues pertaining to beliefs, opinions, and perspectives. Saturn has the most power as it is strongly placed in its home sign (ruling Jupiter and Pluto) as the Sun and Moon are also moving towards a square (strong on the 18th/19th) with it while separating from the aspects to the other planets in this configuration. This calls for a need to be realistic, cautious, practical, disciplined, structured, or orderly. The combination of this and all the retrograde energy can call for some sort of refinement.
Venus Opposing Neptune, Trine Planets In Capricorn, and Square The Lunar Nodes
The ruler of this New Moon, Venus, has been in Virgo in the previous two weeks and will be there until October 27th/28th. Venus ruled areas of values, love, relationships, friends, social life, pleasures, money, aesthetics, beauty, art, taste, sensuality, desires, and attractiveness can be expressed in ways that are practical, conscientious, discerning, picky, detailed, organized, analytical, health oriented, productive, efficient, adaptable, or fault finding/surfacing.
At the time of this New Moon, Venus is moving towards an opposition to Neptune and trine to Jupiter which have been in a sextile over the previous weeks. This energy is strong from October 18th-19th and can be good for creative or artistic efforts as well as social interactions that have spiritual, compassionate, broad, or philosophical themes. It can also reflect expansiveness, growth, morals, optimism, idealism, along with confusion, deception, escapism, and delusion affecting Venus areas of life (as mentioned in above paragraph).
Mars retrograde will also be in a square with Jupiter at that time which could also reflect conflicts around beliefs, opinions, and judgements. Excessiveness, overconfidence, and spreading ourselves out too much can also play out. Mercury retrograde will be moving towards an opposition to Uranus (peaks 19th/20th) which can make it harder to focus and can bring disruption, changes to plans, and perhaps communication problems.
Venus approaches a square to the Lunar Nodes on October 20th/21st. We may be reflecting on the past and future, or perhaps at a crossroads, when it comes to relationships and values. Venus is then in a trine with Pluto (October 21st/22nd) which can bring an empowering, deep, intense, or insightful energy to things associated with Venus. Following this, it moves to a trine with Saturn (October 24th/25th) which can have a committing, strengthening, supportive, responsible, practical, or stabilizing effect on these areas.
Making Intentions & Things To Consider
What can you do to improve how you relate with others? Is there a need to compromise, find common ground, or achieve fairness and equality? What has come up for you in the week leading up to this New Moon? Should you change the way you assert your needs or individuality? Are circumstances in your life pushing you to think differently about something? What can you learn from any obstacles that have been coming up in your life? Is there anything that needs to be restrained?
These are just some examples of what to consider or focus your intentions on at this time. However, it is good to reflect on anything else that is coming up for you. It is generally best to make any intentions within the first 24 hours following a New Moon. The exact moment it will occur is 7:31pm Universal Time on October 16th. You can click here to see what that is in your time zone.
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