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Is Your Relationship To God Wrecking Your Relationship With God? (Part 2)

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Be sure that you've read Part 1 » here «.

[Note to the reader: "God" is used throughout as a signifier to point to wherever you put your worship. It could be conventional religions as I will mainly address, but you could just as easily replace it with Gaia if you "put your worship" there--if the environment is your ultimate concern. or you could replace it with polytheistic beliefs such as Hinduism. Or maybe you put your worship in the Universe, consciousness, or Community. Consider that whatever your ultimate concern is, the concepts in this article can apply to that thing as "God" for you. Doing this will allow you to get the most from this article. -Jason D McClain]

 

As I asked in Part 1:


"...was Jesus really born of the Virgin Mary? Was Lao Tzu really born as a 900 year-old man? Is the earth really resting on the head of a giant serpent (or the shell of a giant tortoise)? And of course, the subject of great debate most recently it seems: is the Earth really only 6,000 years old? Are these facts—with belief in them required to enter into the afterlife? Or are they gorgeous and useful poetic metaphors pointing to a greater truth in a way that people at the time could accept, pointing to Divine power?"

These metaphors are a testament to the belief in stunningly powerful, mystical, and magical forces embodied in "Spirit". Stories told to the good common folk of those eras. Metaphors they could relate to. This was useful and good—in fact, it could have been no other way at the time. However, the vast majority that count themselves among the world’s religions have lost touch with this simple wisdom: that metaphors of their spiritual traditions do indeed hold tremendous aesthetic value and inspirational mythopoetic beauty, however, they are not the Truths themselves.

Nor should they really matter when discussing spiritual merit. Would we say someone was not a good person if they acted with love, grace and charity all of their life, dedicated to the service of others, but rejected the idea of the Virgin Birth? Of course not.

Sadly, focusing on the details of the metaphoric stories as a basis for “faith” rather than the individual relationship with the Universal Truths results in losing access to Divinity and Spirit. Ending up, in turn, hopelessly (and endlessly) arguing over details of form and presentation-details of stories told long ago so that simple people could easily have access to God. These arguments aren’t just friendly disagreements or intellectual debates engaged in among scholars; they have split families and divided congregations--and sent nations to war on too many occasions for us to want to list here.

The fact that this is so, and that is springs from traditions that were and are meant to free the spirit, spread love, and acceptance, and give hope to the hopeless, is no less than tragic.

So that we can attempt to avoid the same pitfalls, let us set aside what is “true” or “false” about these mythopoetic themes and focus instead on the more personal and individual experience. This is what is relevant for our discussion that is focused on the context of personal evolution.

For that, we need to address not the truth, but the utility of our relationship to the Divine--"to" vs. "with." This “to vs with” business is not just fun with prepositions. It has a very practical impact on our internal life and emotional experience.

The manner in which we relate to anything determines its meaning and importance in our lives. Whether that thing is a significant other, a new career opportunity, a rainy day, traffic on the highway, and/or yes, even “God”. Perhaps we should even say In fact, especially God—not because that is accurate, but simply because of the impact that our personal relationship with God has on our real-life happiness.

Let’s take traffic.

We have all experienced traffic on a highway. How do you relate to it? What is your interpretation of it? Do you view it as a waste of time? A hassle? An increase in vehicular pollution? Or perhaps you see it as a welcome break and use it to unwind on your way home listening to relaxing music or an opportunity to listen to a favorite book on audio? The obvious point is that how you “hold” this experience we call “traffic” in your subjective world will give rise to a specific and tangible emotional experience around it, or what we will call an “atmosphere”.

 “It is never the thing itself, but rather your relationship to it”.

Knowing that let’s take it out another level: it is not just how you relate “to” traffic that will determine your experience. While this is true, we could take one more step and realize that we are not just in traffic--if you are in your car in the middle of traffic, you are the traffic. You are at the very least a component part of it as a whole.

Think about that the next time you are cursing the traffic you are in.

You can see what we have done there, and you are likely already familiar with the importance of and the ability to “frame” your experience described in the above paragraphs. This is nothing new. Most of the wisdom traditions teach that how you interpret an event will determine your emotional experience around it—and with regular practice, you can discipline your mind to interpret your experience in a way that leads you to have the emotional experience of life that you desire. Simple. Not easy, but simple.

And yet, when we get to the context of God—we go all whacky. As if it somehow no longer applies.

Just as we examined if your relationship to traffic serves you, we will examine the same of your relationship to God.

I was with a client and we chased the source of his "issue" to a particular construction he has of God—and God and spirituality is very important to him.

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Intentional Relating in Community | Responsible Interpretive Rigor With And To Others

Intentional Relating in Community | Responsible Interpretive Rigor With And To Others

Some years ago I wrote some guidelines for an intentional community and what I felt would create the best convergence of wisdom and having a responsible "immune system" for a community for safety of those participating as well as the most freedom of self-expression possible, all while trying to maintain it as Evolutionary -- with constant upward spirals, part of which would certainly include plateaus in that "constancy".

Blah blah, blah.

Anyway, one of the rules I had [and hold] is that in a community with individuals engaged in personal development, where Evolution is present, it is our duty and responsibility to update our interpretations of others.

This is not so unique, and the need is obvious: people have brief interactions with others. "Snap-shots" of that person if you will. But they are brief and contextual. And yet, people then extrapolate out and assess [or judge] this person as X. They then share this interpretation of this person with others. Perhaps out of genuine concern. Sometimes just to gossip.

And those who are careful and responsible in their sharing may even say "I only interacted whit them in XYZ situation and you may have another experience of them", blah, blah, blah.

They may even check in with the person/interact with them to see if their experience/assessment/interpretation was still valid.

And right there is where we can improve this process.

The Evolutionary would check in to see where their interpretation was *no longer* valid. Observe first where we were (or could be) wrong or out of date--looking for difference rather than for confirmation--of and about their assessment.

It is uncomfortable and against human nature's tendency to go for familiarity, confirmation bias, safety, etc. but it is more rigorous in our own evolution and more useful for true human connection and more aligned with what I consider to be Evolutionary principles.

And we will be relating more accurately with the dynamic being in front of us, rather than the stale and static caricature of them in our heads.

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Evolutionary Thinking on the Evolution of Ego | Expand and Dissolve Rather than "Annihilate"

Evolutionary Thinking on the Evolution of Ego  | Expand and Dissolve Rather than "Annihilate"

We have been sold a bill of goods around ego. One that creates internal division and conflict. One that creates internal dissonance. One that creates pain. One that, at its worst, can foster a certain degree of self-hatred. A dis-ownership of the self. A bill of goods that is 2,500 years old in terms of its story around ego, the nature of ego, and the "problem" of ego.

And there is a better way. One that can create the same intended result with a kinder, gentler more self-accepting approach that can accelerate the evolution of the ego through the radical acceptance of expanding the ego, rather than attempting the psychological and spiritual suicide of ego annihilation. 

You can also see some similar themes around ego in the business context, read this article:  Self-Esteem and the Solo-Preneur | Internal vs. External Locus of Responsibility for an even deeper cut, taken from an email I sent a client a couple years ago, read Your Self-Worth is a Settled Matter.

Ok...ready? ::: Heh.

A quote from Ken Wilber I posted spawned an in-depth, yet brief—discussion on the nature and evolution of ego, Spiral Dynamics, the Integral community, and related topics, including the difference between cognitive development and actual development ::: the difference being understanding vs emotional response and being, or stated differently ::: one’s “center of gravity”.

The style is conversational, as it was an actual conversation.

Below are excerpted comments in the thread that followed. The order of some of the comments have been changed for continuity of the discussion, and for flow. Some have been deleted for the sake of relevance. If you want to see the full, unedited thread for yourself, you can see that HERE. The edited and streamlined version is below for your reading enjoyment.

The quote that started it all :::

“The ego is not a thing but a subtle effort, and you cannot use effort to get rid of effort--you end up with two efforts instead of one. The ego itself is a perfect manifestation of the Divine, and it is best handled by resting in Freedom, not by trying to get rid of ego, which simply increases the effort of ego itself.” --Ken Wilber 

Of course, I cannot speak for Ken Wilber—nor will I attempt to.

Simultaneously, I have read and listened to most of his stuff. As a result, I can certainly imagine—to varying degrees of accuracy—what he is speaking to, so I will attempt to translate him.

AND this will be based on my own experience after 19 years of conscious work, clearing, and self-examination and evolution—AND based on my work with over 200 clients one-on-one in my Personal Evolution Program, which lasted [when I used to do that work]  about 7 months--designed to accelerate the evolution of their ego ::: to widen their embrace. To increase their ease. To reduce their fear. To eliminate most of their anger. To increase their esteem for the Self.

So I may be and will be projecting/hallucinating…and it will be accurate—to varying degrees. Your mileage may vary.

So…what is “ego”? Most in popular spiritual and psychological circles will say we must transcend our ego, or worse ::: “annihilate it”. Is this healthy? Is this ecological? Does it suit the ecology of the environment we exist in?

The ecology of the self?

Is “ego what motivates us” as Pi asserts? Perhaps sometimes, yes. perhaps always—sure.

And the question for me becomes, motivates HOW? From what stage? Because, you see, we will be motivated differently from different stages, for different reasons.

For me, ego is essentially the seat of our consciousness. Where it rests and comes from. Not its Source. Its Source is the very kosmos ::: consciousness with a capital C. 

James Reidy suggested as a definition :::

Ego: n. a person's conscious and unconscious beliefs about their own identity. 

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Quadrant-Based Model for Esteem for the Self

Quadrant-Based Model for Esteem for the Self

Self-Esteem Matrix

[Validation (V) ::: Worth | Referencing (R) ::: Efficacy]
Internal and external locus

 

 

If we combine Dr Nathaniel’s definition of self-esteem—that is that self-esteem has two integral and inseparable—yet equally important and parallel—components:

  • Self-efficacy [knowledge of our effectiveness/our value/guilt]
  • Self-respect [Making choices appropriate to life/self-worth/shame

…with another multi-dimensional idea ::: that the “high self-esteem” and “low self-esteem” binary representation is inadequate to accurately explain some behaviors and behavioral choices, and we look at where the individual’s attention is, then we begin to create a richer and deeper—and therefore more accurate signifier—a more accurate representation of esteem for the self.

I prefer that phrase, that is: esteem for the self, to the more common phrase “self-esteem” for two reasons:

  1. The phrase/word “self-esteem” is one of the most misunderstood and overused phrases in American pop psychology. And,
  2. The phrase Esteem for the Self refocuses our attention where it should be; our opinion of the “me” in our self-concept.

 The sad part is that what most of the “experts” in academia call “self-esteem” is simply not self-esteem, but rather “other-esteem”. This can border on the absurd when supposed experts call for an end to competition. Or, an end to grades in school.

Given that our esteem for the self is our immune system for life, it must be tested, so it can grow, respond, and develop the metaphoric antibodies to the hardships of life. While I am far from competitive, I am glad it existed in my upbringing. Grades. Martial Arts training, science contests, spelling bees, etc.

Anyway … to bring a richer texture to the conversation … in the above figure we have 4 basic locations or orientations to esteem for the self. Internal / external and validation / referencing.

Below are some relatively raw notes on the quadrants above, but more importantly, below that is a table that lays out some of the misconceptions about what it means to have true esteem for the self. For those of you who know me to be a proponent of stage conceptions, this is not in conflict with an egoic stage conception, but it would overly complicate the conversation for mass consumption to add another dimension in this writing.

If you are curious about how this quadrant-based model would interact with a stage conception for egoic development, shoot me an email … ok:

With no further ado:

UPPER LEFT ::: If someone is Internally validated [VI] and they are externally referenced [RE] then we have the ideal situation; someone who is internally validated, and therefore “immune” at a core level from the opinions of others—yet also externally referenced, meaning they care about gathering feedback from the outside world and from others—so they can continually become more effective, and—if need be—adjust their behaviors. This quadrant is the healthiest of the quadrants. Those grounded in this quadrant will be happiest, more at ease with themselves, interact more effectively with others, and produce better results in the real world.

 

UPPER RIGHT ::: Internally validated and internally referenced. Not ideal. They truly do not care about the opinions of feelings of others—and do not need them, but simultaneously they do not notice their impact or care about their impact. You could call this person the empowered idiot. Unaware entirely.

 

LOWER LEFT ::: Externally validated and externally referenced. This person is constantly contorting themselves to whomever is around them, based on subtle or gross cues, but they are also dependent on the opinion of others to feel good about themselves. They try to be everything for and to everybody. I jokingly refer to this quadrant as “hell”. They will never feel good about themselves as they are never in touch with themselves—and do not even know who they are—and their feelings will shift like the wind upon the whims or preferences of others.

 

LOWER RIGHT ::: Externally validated but internally referenced. This person is desperate for people’s attention, their validation and praise, yet is inner-focused and not able to adjust to cues. Imagine them seeking approval, and constantly bumping into walls and people all the time. Desperate for approval. Never quite able to do the right thing to get it. Let's call this quadrant "purgatory".

Heh.

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Your Success Equation | Thoughts Action Will | Part 1: Thoughts

Your Success Equation | Thoughts Action Will | Part 1: Thoughts

Thoughts + Action + Will = Your Dream or Vision Becoming a Reality

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There is much discussion about what it takes to be successful—and what it takes to be an entrepreneur. What it takes to succeed at owning your own business. Or stated differently, what it takes to “manifest” your vision in the world.

And while many people try to emulate personalities, rather than systems—which is a sure-fire way to fail—and there are certainly tangible, unique characteristics that have a Steve Jobs or a Barak Obama, or a _________________  succeed, there are those that want to sum it up to “luck” or “chance” or “connections”. Or “timing”. Or, “that is just them”.

While there is a certain amount of all of those that will aid one in bringing their vision into the world—they only help.

Even without those additional “helpers” we have a huge amount of latitude and control over the degree of our success—and even whether we succeed—or not; and to what degree. And often the successful management of the following aspects can assist those helpers in appearing and happening as if by “magic”. 

There are three components or ingredients to having your vision become a reality

1. Thoughts  2. Action  3. Will [The Will to Carry It Through]

Thoughts 

So many people reduce this to the Law of Attraction only, and worse, want to have you believe you have already earned your success somehow—before you have actually produced anything or taken any action. Essentially before you have produced anything of value to others in the world.

I reject that wholeheartedly.

While the Law of Attraction is critical—and demystifying it equally so—so that you understand not only that it does work, but also why and how—it is not the only way to manage your mind that is critical. There are others seldom talked about.

Because I cover this at length in my Outcome Inevitability audio and I provide my clients and those who are members on the coaches site have access to—and also on the free Evolutionary Sales podcasts on iTunes—and others have done so as well…

Because of that, we will leave that in this writing and go to the meatier subjects :::

Thoughts: The inspired IDEA

You must have an idea. It does not have to be original. However, it must be at the right place in the “curve”. In other words, it has to either be a proven business model but not yet saturated in the market—or it can be new, but the technology and the market must be there to support the idea. AND it must not be on the sloping end of the curve—an idea that is making a lot of money now, but whose course has nearly run out or is about to end.

One of the greatest skills an entrepreneur must have is the ability to accurately perceive where the market is headed. There is no replacement for this skill. It means the difference between great success, failure, or middling success—and likewise great profits, or great losses. And while an entrepreneur knows that “failures” can be the sharpest learning opportunities, they can be costly, and well, let’s face it—less fun 

Thoughts: Deeper Meaning | Purpose

Additionally you must be able to tie it to deeper meaning. You’re not just creating a cool product or service—you are improving the lives of others—and ultimately making the world a better place somehow. You are serving humanity itself in some deep, meaningful way. Even with a small piece of software. Or a coaching offering. Or a new convenience appliance.

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