Begrudgingly accepting

 

Here are three general phases in befriending the shadow, letting go of narrow identities, or inquiring into beliefs (all aspects of the same process)…

  • Being blindly in the grips of it, not even noticing what is going on
  • Noticing it as a shadow, an identity, a belief, and exploring it
  • Finding resolution through befriending and becoming intimately familiar with it, and seeing what was already more true for me than my surface belief

During the second phase, when it is still half-resolved, I notice in myself and others a tendency to begrudgingly accept it. I know, on an idea level and from past experience, that it is a shadow and comes from a belief, but am still in the grips of it on an emotional level, and to some extent also on a behavioral level (it seeps out, even if I try to hold it back.)

I know there is a monster in the back yard, and that I cannot get rid of it, but I am not happy about it either.

Genuine appreciation

Exploring it further, more wholeheartedly, in my daily life and in more detail, seeing what is already more true for me, the monster is revealed as not a monster at all. I find the genuine gifts in that which was placed in the shadow, and in the situation I initially didn’t want.

As in the story of Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende, the demonic queen dragon turned into, when captured and kept safely in a cage, a golden dragon of wisdom. The horrors of it was real as long as it was roaming free, untamed by civilization. But through capturing it, and containing it without killing it, it was allowed to transform into golden wisdom.

What I initially was blind to, and then begrudgingly accepted, is now something there is genuine and unreserved appreciation for.

Examples

For instance, say I have a chronic illness. Initially, I am identified with getting rid of it. After a while, seeing that it hasn’t worked yet, I start working on my own attitudes around it. I try to find peace with it, although I still see the illness as something awful and undesirable. Eventually, I may come to see the real gifts in the illness… I start realize what it has brought to my life that I genuinely appreciate… the maturing and deepening that has happened for me through the illness… this obstacle which nothing could be done with… I may still not have chosen it, if there had been a choice, but now, there is a genuine appreciation for it. Beyond acceptance, is appreciation.

Or I may have trouble with anger, for instance through a one-sided identity as somebody who is not angry. Anger then becomes a real problem, and something I try to avoid in myself and others. It becomes a monster in my life. Then, I may half-heartedly accept that it is here as well, although I still don’t like it much. And finally, as I explore it further, I see how it supports my life when it is allowed to become a part of the team of all of me. I learn to genuinely appreciate all of its many gifts to my life… its energy, its ability to get things done in certain situations, its assistance in getting through to people if everything else fails.

Alchemy

In alchemy, this is the process of nigredo (the suffering of being in the grips of it), albedo (the work), and rubedo (the fruition of the work.)

Relationships with the ultimate, and inflation

 

In terms of avoiding or minimizing inflation, it is safer to actively explore the 2nd, 3rd, and zero person relationships with Big Mind (see previous post), and then just allow the 1st person relation to come and go on its own.

Inflation inherent in a sense of a separate self

Although even here, as long as there is a sense of a separate self, there will be some inflation, and it is good to notice it and take it for what it is.

There is a sense that I, as a separate self, have a relationship with God, understand something about God, or am someone who has glimpses of the ground of all existence. So I am special, different, am in a special relationship with God or existence, and so on. All of this is inflation. We take something that is inherently neutral, place a value on it, and take it as happening to a separate self.

It is inevitable, and happens all the time anyway.

There is a sense of a separate self, and with it comes an automatic sense of superiority and inferiority, richly diverse and with many different flavors. This form of inflation is just one of those, although it can be an especially nasty one, and annoying to those around, if left unchecked.

So what can we do?

Working with inflation

Again, we can work with it from the form and the emptiness sides.

From the form side, one way is notice and work with projections, and especially shadow projections.

From the emptiness side, I can find myself as headless and see that all of this is (apparently) happening to an individual who is inherently free from a separate self, and more precisely that it is really happening as awake emptiness and form, inherently absent of a separate I.

In both cases, we come to see that it is all inherently neutral, and only takes on significance, meaning, and a sense of importance, through our stories about it, and through believing in those stories.

Views and their shadows

 

As soon as their is a belief in an idea… a thought, image, identity, perspective, view, framework… there is automatically a shadow. I want this to be true, not that. I want to be identified with this, not that.

My mind closes down, not interested in, or willing or able to, see the grain of truth in the other perspectives, or the limits to the truth and validity of my own. And my heart closes down, seeing them as Other, not able to recognize myself in them, not able to find our shared humanity, not seeing how we are in the same boat.

As ugly as it can get, there is also a beauty in it.

Existence is inherently neutral. Awake emptiness and form, allowing any and all perspectives, views, thoughts, ideas, identities, frameworks, theories, and yet not being touched by any of them. They all have a grain of truth to them, yet they are all incomplete, all missing out of something, all of only temporary, limited and purely functional value.

So when we take any of these relative truths as an absolute, we are at odds with what is. We are automatically up against the world, as it is, and this brings stress, dissatisfaction, suffering, a sense of something being off (we often think it is the world!), of something being incomplete.

And it is true. When we take a limited perspective as all there is, something is off, and something is incomplete. We are right in being dissatisfied.

The stress, dissatisfaction, suffering and everything else is not only a reminder that something is off, but an invitation to correct ourselves. To investigate. To see that what we took as an absolute truth is only a relative one, and that all of its reversals have a grain of truth in them as well.

And it runs through our lives all different directions and levels, from our conscious and apparently chosen views such as grand philosophical frameworks and religion, to our conscious identities, to the often more invisible worldviews of our culture, to views we wouldn’t be caught dead having but still do somewhere in a corner of who we are.

Derrida and others may see this in the grand scheme of things, in terms of philosophical and political and religious ideas. But do they see it in all the details of their daily life? Do they see it when their kids make a mess and don’t clean up after themselves. When their partner cheat on them. When someone… a friend, their kids, their parents, their academical opponent… says they are wrong, can they join with the person saying it and find it in themselves?

For many of us, it is easy when it comes to the big ideas such as religions, spiritual approaches and political ideologies. I can see how they are all relative truths. But it is far more difficult in my daily life. It gets far more gnarly and unpleasant when someone rubs up against deeply seated beliefs in me, especially those I didn’t even know I had, or don’t want to admit to being there.

Transcend and exclude

 

In my own life, and of course… more easily… in other’s life, I sometimes see a tendency to transcend and exclude.

And it has a direct connection with the shadow.

I am identified with a particular identity, and what comes up does not fit within that identity. The box I have made for myself is not big enough, and leaves it outside.

One of the more recent examples is with the movie The Secret, where my initial reaction was of pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing.

But then, as soon as that happens, I also notice all the signs of being caught up in a shadow projection: pushing it away, putting it down, seeing it as inferior, not really worth existing…!

So shifting into a transcend and include mode, I am more free to find the grain of truth in its message, and also appreciate how it… obviously… fills a real need for many people. I can explore its value, its gifts, and see how it fits in with the bigger picture… what role does it fill? What can it do for people, and where are its limits? I can explore it in a more receptive and nuanced way.

And working with my own shadow projections around it certainly helps me in this… for instance by using The Work.

Islam’s golden age

 

In our post-cold war times, where Muslims are the new villains and scapegoats, and the Islamic world the new favorite shadow projection object, it may be good to remember what we owe Islamic culture.

The most obvious example is the role of the Islamic world in the birth of modern Western culture: the Renaissance, which would not have been what it was (or may not have been at all) if it wasn’t for the Islamic Golden Age, and their preservation, enriching and transmission of elements from a wide range of ancient cultures, including the Greek and Roman.

The stink

 


An open sewer in Lublin, 1930s.

As long as there is a sense of a separate self, there is a sense of being better and worse than others. And there is also a stink, which is especially noticeable when we cling to a sense of being better than others.

This stink is quite noticeable in much of the integral world… In those who use integral theory to put others down and elevate themselves. In those who find it necessary to see themselves as second tier, and pronounce it to the world. In those who find no use, and not even a right to existence, in less-than-integral approaches that obviously fills a need for others – such as The Secret and the Law of Attraction.

It all comes from a lack of investigation.

Anything I see in others, is also here.

The more I see that, through my own investigation, in a finely grained way, in daily life, the less there is a sense of being better or worse.

There is just a human life being lived out. And anything I see in others, is also here.

On the surface, in my face to the world, there are certainly differences.

But in the vastness of the depth of who I am as a human, and what I am as awake emptiness, there is none… Just intimacy, connection, recognition, and even that is saying too much.

Julian at Zaadz is saying something about this: Second Tier? Get Over Yourself. A Brief Righteous Vent…. (Thanks to William Harryman at Integral Options Cafe for finding and linking to that post.)

Lebensborn

 

This is one of those heart wrenching stories that shows us what blindness to the shadow in ourselves, and not standing up against it when expressed in others, can bring about (there are of course many other aspects to this issue besides projections.)

Living hell of Norway’s ‘Nazi’ children (BBC)

We all have our ideas of what it would be good to teach and learn in schools, and a top candidate on my list – along with interpersonal skills and learning about group dynamics and facilitation – is projections. How do we recognize, and then work with, our projections, and in particular our shadow? And how do we deal with others, as individuals or groups, when they are in the grips of their shadow?

Some of the warning signs of being in the grips of the shadow are…

  • A strong sense of separation between I/us and you/them
  • Seeing us as good/right and them as wrong/evil/bad (or reversed, in unusual cases)
  • Strong emotions of fear or hatred, and variations of those (disgust, unease, etc.), and seeing “them” as triggering or even causing it
  • A certainty of being right
  • A dehumanization of the “other”
  • A lack of empathy with the “other”
  • An inability to recognize our common humanity, seeing in myself what I see in them, and the other way around
  • Reacting in a stronger way than what the situation seems to warrant (as seen by others who are not in the grips of a similar shadow)
  • Scapegoating
  • Overgeneralizing and broadening the group of “other” to include people who rationally do not have anything to do with what triggered our fear/hatred in the first place (such as the children of German soldiers in Norway)
  • A fear/hatred, combined with dehumanization, which – in its extreme expression – can go to the point of wanting to eliminate the “other”, or at least make their lives miserable

We all do this of course, although rarely in its extreme form. But the difference is (a) whether we recognize what is going on or not, (b) how we express it (we always do, even when we try not to), and (c) how we work with it if at all.

I have heard people talk about working with projections in general, including through processes such as The Work, as impractical – just an interesting philosophy. Fun to explore superficially, but nothing of real value. But if it is engaged with wholeheartedly and with sincerity, there are few things as practical and impactful in our lives, and for those we are in relationship with.

It goes to the core of what it means to be human and how we live our life. It can even prevent or soften the impact of the horrors the “Nazi children” in Norway, and in other European countries, went through… and others go through daily around the world.

When we sincerely work on our shadow, it is a practical act of compassion, not only for ourselves but for others as well. It helps us act on our own shadow less blindly, and deal with it more effectively – and with more clarity – when those around us are in the grips of their own shadow.

Dream: Nazis and crown prince

 

I am related to the crown prince through marriage, and we are in the same room. Nazi WWII soldiers come and occupy the house we are in, and the town as well. I am passive in the dream, faced with a situation I don’t seem to be able to do much about.

Well, this is a typical shadow dream, with the shadow taking the form of one of the favorite bad guys in European culture – WWII Nazi soldiers. Knowing that showed me that there are shadow elements in my life now that “wants” to be made conscious (not a big surprise) but didn’t tell me much more, so I decided to use active imagination to explore it further.

I notice that I was relatively passive in the dream, but to engage with the soldiers I need to take on – and engage – with more strength. I talk to the soldiers, asking them who they are and why they are there. Initially, they don’t answer, but one sits down and smokes a cigarette nearby. I notice the strength in him. After puffing a couple of times, he starts talking and says that he represents an active attitude to life – strength, activity and engagement. I take on these qualities myself, and as I do, the soldiers fade more into the background and the situation shifts into becoming far more manageable and workable.

The dream is showing me something I have noticed in my waking life, but not taken all that seriously… it is nudging me to pay more attention to it, and to take it more seriously.

My conscious interest lately has been in surrendering identification with the content of awareness, including the different aspects of this personality. In theory, and when it happens more fully, this allows the whole of the individual to be expressed more fully, including its strength and active engagement in life. But before that shift happens, there is a tendency to disown the active engagement in the process of surrendering.

There is a lack of differentiation between surrendering identification with any content, and of the content itself, so there is a disowning of aspects of the content – in this case the active attitude.

My job then is to allow more fully the active attitude, and also surrender identification with it. And in my daily life, noticing headlessness seems to be the easiest way to do that.

Additional notes

When something is disowned, it is because our conscious attitude does not fully allow it. It is seen as “bad” one way or another. So when it shows up in dreams, it takes on an image which our culture tends to view as “bad” as well, in this case Nazi soldiers. As the qualities they represent are more fully, wholeheartedly and consciously embraced, their form typically change into something more benevolent. (In this particular case of active imagination, I consciously took on their qualities, and they faded away.)

And I still need to explore the presence of the crown prince in the dream.

What I don’t want to hear

 

In our local The Work group last night, we explored our least favorite things to be told by someone else – what are they, where can I find it in myself or my life, can I also find their opposites, and what are their gifts?

For me, the list can easily be quite long. Here are some that come to mind…

  • You are weird
  • You are incompetent
  • I don’t like you
  • You are a liar
  • You are selfish and self-centered
  • You are a loser
  • You are oblivious

Funny how these all seem to bring up least-favorite childhood memories…!

So let’s see if I can find these in myself, their opposites (finding myself as big enough to contain both), and also find the genuine gifts in each.

You are weird

Yes, I can see that I am weird in many different ways. I have some unusual interests (including in whatever I write about in this blog). I like unusual music. I don’t do much of what many do, such as going to bars on weekends. I prefer more quiet conversations with friends to big parties. I don’t always join in conversations on topics others find interesting, preferring to listen. I am sure my look can be seen as somewhat weird in different ways and different contexts (I especially noticed that when I was in rural Nepal!) A specific instance: I felt weird at times during the Breema retreat at Breitenbush this weekend, preferring to sleep and go on walks on my own rather than socializing (apart from meals.)

And at the same time, I am normal. My life is a human life, with all it means to be human. Nothing I have ever experienced or thought is something that I haven’t found expressed by someone else. My fears and insecurities seem to be quite ordinary, even common. A specific instance: last night during our local The Work meeting, where I saw that anything coming up for me – including the things I was most embarrassed about – was shared by others, sometimes all, in the group.

What are the gifts of being weird? Well, I am part of expanding what is allowed and expressed in human experience, maybe allowing others to be more comfortable with it as well. Others seeing it (and especially if I am comfortable with it) can help them be more comfortable with themselves and what they go through, maybe even enjoying it! I also get to explore areas of human experience where some others don’t go, filling out the map a little.

To be continued…

Parade: seeing myself as others see me

 

This happened as I was about to fall asleep on the second day of the Breema retreat at Breitenbush (posted the Monday after)…

There is a parade of people in my life, one after another, and I see myself from their perspective. I see my appearance and actions, and experience in first person how this may have been experienced by the other. Then, I see myself as if with an x-ray vision, seeing the inner machinery (thoughts, emotion, confusion, motivations), and how this would have been experienced by the other if they had seen it. This happens for each person, one at the time, going from my current life to past and into childhood. Then, the same happens with animals in my life, including ants I tortured as a child (!)

There is an emphasis on the pain, confusion and suffering my behavior triggered in others, and there is a sense of a sweet openness to it all, taking it in, allowing it to sober me up and see myself more as I would see myself from another persons perspective. There is a sense of sweetness, painfulness, space, quiet receptivity, taking it all in, allowing it to work on me.

This parade was very similar to the parade of sinister characters from some weeks ago. Both happened as I was about to fall asleep, both were similar to a waking dream (happening on their own), and in both cases, there was an inside – first person – experience of each character. As with that one, this parade was very sobering.

I see the pain I inflicted on some animals as a child, seeing myself as a giant, powerful and as evil as they come. I see myself as completely oblivious to the pain I am indirectly inflicting on animals through some of my food choices, and the miserable conditions of laborers creating many of the things I use and wear. I experience the pain triggered by my behavior and words in those close to me, in innumerable situations, in many different ways. I see myself acting and behaving in patterns from my past, not corresponding to the current situation (including not living up to my potential in certain situations, just out of old habits.) And much more.

In each of these cases, I experience myself from the outside, as I would have experienced myself if I were in the other persons (or animal’s) position. The whole parade lasted for maybe thirty or forty minutes, although it is difficult to say for certain.

Deeper layers of the shadow

 

It is pretty easy to notice the surface layers of the shadow, the ones that come up in everyday life, projected on my neighbor, political figures and others. But there are also deeper layers to the shadow, layers that reflect deep patterns in our culture and in our biology as human beings, layers that mirrors our core identification as a separate I.

The journey that happened some days ago is an example of an exploration into these deeper layers of the shadow. And as it shook me to the core, it is clearly going deeper than I am familiar with…

In this vision (or journey, or spontaneous active imagination) there was a parade of dark, shadowy and evil characters from many cultures and times, animal like, human like, gigantic, tiny. I found myself on the inside of each of them, living and breathing their life. And this I was not a separate I but the same one transcendent I in each of them, living and breathing their life. It was the I without an Other.

In the very beginning, seeing a dark large male figure in a black desolate landscape, silhouetted against a dark sky, staring out with red eyes like searchlights scanning the landscape, there was fear coming up, because there was still an identification with a separate I. But soon, there was only the one transcendent I, and an absence of Other and of fear. (Fear requires an Other, and in the absence of Other, there is also an absence of fear.)

Of course, even as powerful a shift as this was, it is another drop, another phase into owning more fully deeper layers of the shadow. There is always further to go, more to see and notice, additional layers to own, befriend, embrace, become more intimately familiar with.

Maybe the most surprising part of this was the fear that came up after the journey was over. A fear of speaking about this, or even writing about it anonymously here… Who can understand? Only the few who themselves have gone here. Those who have befriended these deep layers of their own shadow, seeing that this too is Spirit, this too is God.

And as I write this, I am (by coincidence) listening to Misread by Kings of Convenience…

How come no-one told me
All throughout history
The loneliest people
Were the ones who always spoke the truth…

A close reflection of the sober and somber mood I found myself in writing this.

Not that I see this as “truth”, it is only how things appears for one individual at one phase of his path. But to speak this provisional truth is one way to find myself as lonely…!

Corrections: desire, fusion and shadows

 

Some of the recent posts have been more than a little approximate…!

Big Mind does not desire, but is desire (when it arises)

For instance, in the posts on desire and insatiability, the distinction between Big Mind and desire is not quite clear. To put it simply, Big Mind does not desire (there is no Other to desire, and in its formless aspect it is free from form). Yet it also is desire, when desire arises in an individual. At that moment, Big Mind arises as desire.

So when desire arises in an individual for a full human life and awakening arises, which seems to be our deepest desire (at least for me), then Big Mind is free from it, yet also arises as the desire.

We can say that Big Mind is the desire for it to experience itself through and as a full human life, and also as Big Mind awake to itself.

In a very approximate (and anthropomorphizing) way, we can say that Big Mind (or God) desires to experience and explore itself as finite, through and as an individual human life. And not only that, but as finite in the form of this universe, as galaxies, solar systems, planets, planets becoming alive, ecosystems, social systems, cultures, industry, subcultures, neighborhoods, families, couples, and so on.

The formless desires to experience itself as form, and form desires the formless. The infinite desires to experience itself as finite, and the finite desires the infinite.

It is a catchy and poetic way of putting it. It sounds good at that level. But it is also very imprecise. It gives the impression that God (or Big Mind) desires, yet when there is only the I without the Other, there is no desire. Only rest. Peace (even in the midst of the worst storms and the strongest desires).

Fusion

In the same post on desire, the word fusion is used, and this fusion is just one of the relationships between Spirit, soul and human self. Ultimately, it is all Spirit, all God, the centerless and selfless field of seeing and seen.

But within this, there is a fusion of the three, an infusion of Spirit awake to itself into the individual, and an infusion of soul into the human self. The previous post is on this topic.

Collective shadows

And then the post on a journey into collective shadows. Collective shadows? No. Again that is just a poetic, a little more catchy, and very approximate way of talking about it.

My journey was very much through my own individual shadow, of the many and varied dark characters that puts a face on what is there.

But this individual shadow is formed within a culture where most people put many of the same things into their shadow. Even if there is individual variations, there are also many commonalities, and that is where the idea of a collective shadow comes from. Even for humanity as a whole, across cultures, many of the same things are put in our individual shadows.

And the faces put on what is in my individual shadow is of course influenced by everything I have experienced, including dark and shadowy characters from my own culture and many other cultures.

So the immediate experience of the journey is one of journeying through our collective shadow, the shadow of humanity. But, realistically, it is of course just this individual one reflecting what is out there, in our world culture.

It doesn’t really matter for the impact the experience has on me. What was important was the experiencing of each of these dark creatures from the inside, living and breathing their life, and at the same time seeing that it is the one transcendent I which is the I of all of these.

But it is still good to make the distinction.

A journey through collective shadows

 

I did a source code session last night, designed to facilitate a release from “negative influences” such as the collective unconscious. It was very powerful as it happened, and even now, with a very strong sense of alive intelligent presence and luminosity around and in me.

As I was about to fall asleep, a very vivid journey started on its own…

There is a parade of dark and evil figures from all cultures and times, one after another. I experience each of them from the inside, living and breathing their life, and I see how there is the One “I” in everyone and everything, how they all are Big Mind… (and how they appear as dark and evil because they represent things that are disowned.) There is an incredible sense of depth, grittiness and fullness there, and also a deep sense of peace, of God already being it all (and nothing other than God), so just peace, rest.

It is all very beautiful and peaceful, even in the midst of the most horrifying creatures and images.. Just beauty. And freedom from it all, since they do not appear as an Other anymore, and since they are all already God.

Throughout this, the alive luminous intelligent loving presence is very strongly around and in my body, working in and on the body, especially in the kidneys (!).

This was clearly a journey through the collective shadows of humanity, from any culture and time… very vivid, real, living and breathing the life of all of these creatures from the inside, and realizing that there is only the one “I” in all of it, the one Eye, Spirit, Big Mind… as the inside seeing and subjective “I” experience of each creature, the form of creatures themselves, and the seeing of the creatures as Other. They came one after another, as a parade, human like, animal like, huge, tiny, one and many. All cast in the role of the villain. All representing things we rather would not see as ourselves as individuals, and also often don’t recognize as the I of the One I.

And in the living of their life from the inside, and seeing that the “I” of each of them, the inside experience of each of them, is the One “I” of everyone and everything, there is a release from all of this. They are no longer Other, at an individual or Spirit level, so a release from them. Just rest, peace.

I am not sure what the activity in the kidneys was about, although I know they are associated with fear in Chinese medicine, and throughout this journey there was a deep absence of fear… Where there is no Other, on individual (projection) and Spirit (Big Mind) levels, there is an absence of fear.

Phases of the endarkenment: dark night, Breema, dreams of soul mates and shadows, identities, and sleep and movies

 

Just to complete the picture here of the endarkenment process, I should mention a few things about my dreams and sleep.

Dreams of soul mates

Since about July this summer and up to the endarkenment shift, I have had a large number of dreams where I meet my soul mate (always a different one each time!). These dreams stopped after the endarkenment, because what I dropped into was the soul mate, or rather (an aspect of) soul itself.

(I have been embarrassed to write about these dreams here since I am in a relationship in my waking life, even as I know that these dreams reflect a much deeper inner process, not the externals of my waking life.)

Phases of the endarkenment process

As I see it now, the endarkenment process started a long time ago, and has gone in several phases. The first phase was the dark night, preparing the ground for it. The second finding Breema, which has an emphasis on the belly center. The third seems to have been all the soul mate dreams, reflecting a shift that has not yet become conscious. And the fourth, dropping into the velvety smooth darkness, the endarkenment itself. I guess the current one is the fifth, where it continues to deepen and change.

Shadow dreams mixed in

Also, mixed in among the dreams I have written about in this blog has been a series of shadow dreams, of things coming to the surface needing to be seen, balancing, grounding and widening it out in all directions. There has been a pattern of awakening dreams (velvety blackness, alive luminosity) and widening dreams (shadow dreams), much as a wave with peaks and valleys passing through.

Identities

Related to all of these corrective and shadow dreams is identities. I have been more acutely aware of identities over the last few weeks, seeing them clearly when they come up, and how they filter the world into I and Other, and how attachment to them is holding back what is emerging. They are an old coat that does not fit anymore, too small, wrong cut and color, dusty and old.

More about this in the next post.

Sleep

I have also needed a lot of sleep in this period. Even today, I slept more than twelve hours, and could have slept many more. There has also been a lot of processing before falling asleep and after waking up, allowing a parade of whatever comes up to be embraced by the velvety darkness.

Movies

I have also had a draw to see a lot of movies since the endarkenment, in a wide range of genres from science fiction to horror to existential to comedy to thrillers to post modern to documentaries to classical to quiet Iranian movies. It is as if the endarkenment wants as much of me as possible to come up and be embraced by the velvety darkness, and movies is a good way to trigger this.

Draw to the primitve

 

I am catching up with watching documentaries I missed when they played in the theaters, or that didn’t play around here (Theremin, Derrida, Fog of War).

The most recent one was Keep the River on the Right, about a New York artist and anthropologist who lived with tribes in New Guinea and Peru.

As with all of these movies, it is the human story that is most touching and interesting to me.

And then other things coming up as well.

Fog of War and parallels to Iraq

For instance in Fog of War, some of the parallels between the Vietnam and Iraq wars.

(a) In both cases, the US got into it partly through a serious lack of understanding the historical and cultural background and filters of the Other. In Vietnam, reading into a civil war something far beyond just that: as one more body falling victim to the virus of communism, ready to spread everywhere if not stopped there. In Iraq, not taking into account its history with the British empire, and how a destabilized Iraq inevitably would go in the direction of civil war.

(b) Apparently believing in each case, or at least pretending to believe, that they can “win the heart and minds” of the people they slaughter and who’s country they illegally invade and (try to) occupy.

(c) The US going into it, in both cases, with very little support from the international community. As McNamara said, if even your friends and allies don’t think it is a good idea, maybe you should cool down and see if they have a good point. They are most likely seeing something you don’t.

(d) And finally, how an obviously very intelligent and well-intentioned person can get into trouble through setting loyalty over his own judgment.

The draw of primitivism

At some point in Keep the River on Your Right, the topic of a draw to primitivism came up, and I got curious about what it is about.

For me, what is in the foreground now when watching these types of anthropologically themed movies is just the diversity of human cultures, world views, experiences and filters. But I also remember that in my childhood and early teens, the primitive was fascinating to me in itself. What is it about?

Two things came up for me…

:: Free from beliefs

The first is a draw to a natural, unhindered state of mind. A freedom from the shoulds and rules of civilization and culture. A more open and receptive way of being, more spacious, just doing what comes up next to do.

This is of course a projection.

All cultures have believes, norms, shoulds, rules, unquestioned assumptions, including tribes living in New Guinea and Peru.

And the freedom we are looking for is available right here, by allowing the shoulds to fall into the background for a moment through dance, ritual, nature, mystical experiences, drugs, sex and so on, or more stably and deeply through questioning beliefs and allowing them to fall away.

It is not only available right here, it is here right now. It is the awake emptiness right here, which we usually don’t even notice, or just take for granted, or don’t explore enough to see what is about – how it can transform what we take ourselves to be and how we live in the world as human beings.

:: Meeting and getting to know the shadow

The other aspect is meeting and getting familiar with the shadow.

In our civilized culture, the “primitivism” we project onto these tribes is not allowed, not OK, held at bay by our shoulds, outside of our conscious or ideal identity.

Yet, we yearn to be more whole, to allow all of us into our identity, to be OK with all of who we are, so we seek out the shadow in many ways. We want to meet it, get to know it, become familiar with it, befriend it. Some of the more acceptable ways of doing this is through stories, such as movies, books, dreams, fantasies, and more consciously through active imagination.

Dream: taking action to clear it up

 

I am alone on the second floor of a building used for lectures, art, body oriented practices and similar. The architecture of the building, and the atmosphere and orientation, seems quite similar to anthroposophy, and the room is used for a form of body-oriented practice similar to Eurythmy, although this form is more full, inclusive and fluid.

A larger group of students (all male?) are about to enter the room, and I am there to clear something up. They have been misinformed about, or have misinterpreted, something I have done, and I am in danger if I meet them unprepared.

So when they come up the stairs to the room, I hold them at gunpoint and ask them to move over to another end of the room.

When they are all gathered there, I explain the situation to them, and they soften, change their attitude about me and what I have done, and welcome me. The situation was resolved quickly and ends in a sense of warm connections and inclusiveness.

Another shadow dream, but this one where the apparent conflict between me and the shadow is quite easily resolved, partly because I take action and make a container for it to be resolved.

This dream reminds me of my favorite shadow-work story from when I got interested in these things in my teens: An evil queen dragon has kidnapped a large number of children. These are rescued and instead of killing the dragon, she is contained and placed in a large cage. After a while of being contained, she turns into a golden dragon of wisdom. (Jim Button and Luke the Engine Driver by Michael Ende.)

By containing the shadow, as I did in the dream, it is given a chance to transform.

If we give it free reign, it can easily hurt us and others. If we combat with it, it only grows in strength and can also easily harm us and others. If we ignore it, it does potentially harmful things behind our backs. If we kill it (as it is in so many stories), it is only reborn in a different form.

The only real solution is to face it, take whatever measures necessary to contain it, and allow it to transform in its own time.

Dream: telling the truth || feeling into the truth of the shadow

 

I had been the third speaker for a group of people, and noticed how people had been steadily trickling out throughout each of the three sessions. A woman behind me said “no wonder people left, you are not a very good public speaker.” I noticed a part of me wanted to protest, but also how true it felt and how good it felt to be with that truth. How it nurtures, in a deep way.

After I woke up, I allowed myself to continue to feel into this, and then to feel into anything else that I don’t want to see about myself. It all felt full and nurturing, and as a new shift into owning more parts of my shadow. I have done this before, including through The Work, but to feel into it in this way, so deeply, fully and tinged with bliss, was new.

The day before, what they call Being Participation in Breema had been especially alive for me and in the foreground. Allowing my whole being to participate in whatever I am doing (noticing that it already is), and the fullness and sense of nurturing and quiet bliss that comes with it.

And this is just one more aspect of Being Participation. Allowing my whole being to participate in feeling into the truth held by the shadow. I am a failure. I look weird. I am noisy. I am crude. I am unaware. I am inconsiderate. I am blind. I am, in a very specific way, anything I see in the world.

There is a truth in all of these statements, as there is in any statement. There is a truth in all of these statements which do not align with how I would like to see myself, or how my culture is telling me I should see myself. There is a grain of truth there, at the very least.

And to feel into it is to own it in a deepening way. To be with it, feel into it, allowing all of me to participate, allowing more of all of me to be felt as me.

Dream: Informed on a central criminal, and hunted by his friends

 

I informed on a central, powerful and influential man, with enough information to have him put away for life. His friends were after Jen and I, and we did our best not to be found.

We lived in a beautiful terrased apartment complex, and had moved from one top level apartment to another a few weeks before. His henchmen had broken into our old apartment around noon the same day, only hours after I had informed and the head crook put away. Unfortunately, our names and the number of our new apartment was listed at the ground level, and they had seen it and would come back.

The apartment or building (?) complex was up on a hillside, in Mediterranean style white-washed stucco, and had a beautiful and expansive view. Many interesting characters lived there, including the head teacher at the Breema Center and many artists and musicians.

A while before all this happened, we had invited friends and neighbors over to a party in our apartment that afternoon. They all arrived and enjoyed themselves, with much music, food and dancing. But Jen and I were concerned, planned what to do next, and we also informed our friends that they may be in danger just by knowing us. We knew our friends and family may be in danger, as harming them was one way the crooks could harm us.

Early in the evening, the party disbanded and Jen and I left the apartment, taking all our personal belongings with us – especially anything could give more information about us, our families or our friends.

There was a sense of nobody there who could substantially help us, not even the police. There was also a sense of foreboding, and of dread and terror. I said at one point “this is going to change our lives forever.”

There is a lot of things going on here, and I am not even sure where to start.

Some things that comes up for now:

Making beliefs into crooks

There was a clear sense of the head crook as representing beliefs, especially as I have worked on exploring beliefs so much lately through various forms of self-inquiry. The dream reminds me of something I am already aware of (although obviously not enough): I am making beliefs into criminals…! In my own mind, I make beliefs into criminals, someone to be locked away for good. And the chief criminal is of course the belief in the idea of I.

Seeking realization very easily makes anything apparently hindering realization into an Other, and even into an enemy or a crook. And this of course is just another way to create and reinforce a split, a duality, an I and Other.

The dream is reminding me of this. If I am too attached to the light, the dark will not go away, and it may even take a sinister appearance and go after me – to the point of killing me, as representing the dualistic attitude.

(Less importantly, the dream says that the head crook has been informed on and put away for good. What I have made into the chief crook here is the sense of I, the belief in the idea of I, and I have certainly spent a good deal of time informing on him, doing my best to put him away for life…!)

Embracing the light and the dark

I did a quick Process Work explorations of this, using vector work.

The two main elements in the dream is the criminals and our beautiful life in the apartment building.

The line of the criminals is dark, has a heavy and ominous feeling, and goes to the north-northwest (sunset).

The line of our life in the apartment building, with the nice expansive view and artists and the head Breema teacher, is light and luminous, and goes to the east-northeast (sunrise).

And the line that combines them both, embraces the dark and the light, the shadow and the conscious identity, heaven and earth, crooks and saints, the endarkenment and the enlightenment.

Getting the general idea is one thing, and working on the specifics of it, over and over, in always new ways as it shows up in life, is another.

Fear when shifting (or letting go of) identities

Another aspect of all of this may be the fear that comes up when we shift, or let go of, identities. Who am I if I am not … (a belief in an idea)? How will my life look without it? Will I be able to function? It is only natural that fear comes up as we reach this threshold, and that some terror may come up immediately after it has been crossed.

I let go of this identity. Won’t something terrible happen? Isn’t the sky going to fall? Am I not going to be struck by a thunderbolt?

Invitation to a deeper shift

The dynamics of this whole process, played out in the dream, is very typical. It is the experienced struggle of light and dark, and the process of integrating them both in our lives, in always deeper ways.

It is a process that leads up to realized selflessness, and one that – if we are open to it – is ongoing even after realized selflessness.

It can always deepen and be more inclusive. It can always be lived more fully. There is always more “its” in this human self that can be made into a “me” and “mine”. And there are always me and mines that can be deepened, explored in new ways, lived in more full and inclusive ways.

Before and after realized selflessness, our human self can continue to heal, mature, develop, and continue to own and embrace “its” and made them more fully and deeply into “mine”.

It is just part of the game, part of the infinite creativity of Spirit, part of the unfolding and evolution of Spirit in its form aspect.

Drives and motivations

 

There is a common perception, probably with roots in different romantic views, that trouble drives creativity.

Driven by beliefs and the shadow

It seems true in a limited way. If there are strong attachments to certain beliefs, and a correspondingly strong shadow, then these beliefs and shadows can certainly be a strong drive in our lives. Neurotic drives, often coming from fear.

I believe I am not lovable, and spend my life trying to find acceptance through creating a certain persona and achievements. I believe the world needs my insights and ideas, and spend my life developing and sharing them with the world.

There can be wonderful gifts here, but also a good deal of stress.

Motivated by wholeness, enjoyment and empathy

As we work with examining beliefs and recognizing projections, these belief- and shadow-driven motivations weaken and have less force. The go more into the background, and some may erode away completely.

Here, the motivations that come into the foreground may include curiosity, interest, enjoyment in exploration and manifestation, compassion, empathy, and the enjoyable surprise in discovering what comes out of me in the different ways I engage in the world.

This may correspond roughly to the centaur level in KW’s framework, where we find ourselves as the larger whole of body and psyche. It may also correspond to the green and second tier level, characterized by less of the fear driven motivations.

Spirit flowering

Then, as we find ourselves as soul and the witness, and even more so if there is an awakening to realized selflessness, there is a sense of personal motivations eroding allowing clear space for Spirit flowering through and as our human life.

In realized selflessness, seeing and seen arises with no I anywhere, allowing Spirit a more free and full manifestation in our human life (although there may still be traces of old identities and beliefs that limits this flow somewhat).

Transitions

At each of these transitions, our old and familiar drives and motivations are less potent and convincing, they go into the background and may erode completely. At the same time, the new motivations may not yet have emerged clearly. It may take a while to reorient, allow these new motivations to come to the foreground, and become familiar with them and how they function in our life.

Not Inanimate

 

It is with a great deal of surprise that I have watched the US invasion and occupation and Iraq, and now the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The invasion and attacks were maybe not so surprising, but the official reasoning – and even more so the acceptance of this reasoning by many including the media, is surprising to me.

Their reasoning seems to assume that they (somehow) are not dealing with humans and ordinary human reactions and responses.

It seemed inconceivable that the Iraqi population would welcome a foreign invasion and occupation, especially considering their history. To oppose occupation is just human, it is what most of us would do. Yet, the US (officially) assumed otherwise. For every Iraqi civilian killed during the invasion and now during the occupation, the hostility towards the US and the west in general is bound to increase – for good reasons. And as the hostility and resentment deepens, the resistance – including the violent resistance, will too.

The same seems to be the case with the Israeli attacks on Lebanon. The official story is that they are attacking Hezbollah to weaken or eliminate them, yet again – it makes little or no sense. If a foreign country attacks yours, killing large numbers of civilians, isn’t that only going to fuel hostility and resentment? If anything, it will make Hezbollah and similar groups stronger. It only channels more sympathy, resources and people to them. Again, it is only human. It is simply how the vast majority of us would react if we were in their situation. At the same time, it weakens and erodes whatever sympathy is left for Israel around the world. They shoot themselves in the foot.

And the parallel seems clear in terms of how this plays out on an individual level. What I resist persist. As long as I deny its existence, or try to exterminate it, it will only (appear to) fight back with the same strength as I am putting into the fight. Only by meeting it where and as it is can there be any relief.

Of course, the conflict and war I see out there, is what I know from myself. I do the same things, daily, in my own life. Something happens that this personality does not like, there is an identification with and attachment to this dislike, and there is war. What I see in Iraq, Lebanon and other places is just a reminder of this. It is just a mirror. I clean it up here, and can also do whatever seems appropriate in the world.

Picking up the Pieces

 

I notice a tendency to periodically going into less than optimal states, at least as defined by conventional views. I may stay up late and not get enough sleep. I may eat too much ice cream. I may not do much yoga or meditation for a while. And so on.

It seems that these phases are invitations to pick up the pieces. To find those aspects of myself I often and typically avoid, and bring these more into awareness. To allow the beliefs about these aspects to unravel, or at least be set aside for a while. To be with, meet, experience these aspects, simply, without the stories about them. To include them in my (human) identity. To become more familiar with this territory.

Of course, these come up no matter what, independent of engaging in meditation, yoga, good health practices and whatnot. But this is how it shows up in my life right now.

When I function more optimally, again as defined by a conventional view, I feel good. I don’t really want to face those things that seem to disturb this well being. I don’t really have to, when I feel good, most of the time.

So to meet the shadow, I engage in practices which are not optimal for my short term well being. And through that, I find another level of well-being, less dependent on content.

This is how our human lives seems to play out anyway. Most of us do some things that are (on a surface level) good for us, and some things that are not. So I may as well find some peace with it and enjoy it. And find the deeper level of well being that comes from just being with the experiences, no matter what they may be.

Mirrors Mirrors Everywhere

 

The world is my mirror. At my human level, everything I see out there – any quality I see in any human, animal, plant, fictional character, dreams, landscape, universe – is also in here. And as Big Mind, everything is I as soon as it arises.

eBuddha is exploring some of the apparent flaws of Ken Wilber, and it reminded me of how any teacher and/or pundit also are mirrors for ourselves.

I project out our insights, clarity, brilliance, compassion, awakening and so on onto the teacher, and can familiarize myself with them there. As with any other quality, it is often easier to first see them out there.

And since no person is going to live up to my idealized stories about them, they are bound to do something to shatter my illusion. Again, whatever I see in them reflects something in myself. They help me see my own shadow side.

So as with anything else, I become familiar with myself through the other, and am invited to see in myself what I see in the other.

It the teacher mirrors a conscious and healthy approach to his or her own shadow, then the process can be gradual and less painful. But if not, or if the teacher consciously sometimes use a strategy to ruffle feathers (as seems to be the case may be with Ken Wilber here) it may be a shock to his or her followers.

This is where we get to see (a) if what the teacher manifest – typically something that goes against norms – is something we are familiar with in ourselves and have found some peace with, and if not, then (b) if we recognize the signs of a shadow projection (“that is not me!”) and know how to work with it.

Correspondence

 

The Byron Katie inquiries overlaps in many ways with approaches I have used in the past, and also many other approaches out there.

A brief overview of how the Byron Katie inquiries seem to correspond with other approaches.

Question number…

  1. Is it true?
    Awareness of the discrepancy between opinions and reality.

  2. Can you absolutely know it is true?
    Awareness of how abstractions are always only relative truth, unable to touch any absolute truth. Awareness of the limits of knowledge.

  3. How do you react when you believe that thought?
    Psychotherapy (exploring how we are apparently screwed up).

  4. Who would you be without the thought?
    Shikantaza. Big Mind process (Big Mind/Heart, nonseeking mind). Headlessness. Atma Vichara. Mindfulness based psychotherapy.

  5. Turnarounds
    Projections. Shadow work. Everything and everybody are mirrors for myself. Awareness of abstractions as only relative truth, unable to touch any absolute truth.

Heroes & Villains

 

One way to explore polarities in our life is that of heroes and villains. Who were my childhood heroes? Who are my current villains – who in the world do I make into a villain?

Childhood heroes

For me, I see that just about all my childhood heroes were explorers: Thor Heyerdahl (his life), Jack London (his life and books), Jules Verne (his books), David Attenborough (explorer, biologist), Carl Sagan (astronomer), my uncle (biologist living for a time in Africa), and so on. They all explored the world in various ways, through adventures, science and/or imagination.

I can see how well this fits my own life now. I explore the outer world through travels and living in a foreign country, I explore world views and approaches through books and practices, I explore the inner world through practices such as meditation and inquiry. It is all about exploration.

The villains in my world

My current villains are a little less obvious. It used to be the current US administration and corporations, but after doing inquiry for a while much of the charge has gone out there (sometimes triggered still, but much less frequently, with less intensity, and shorter duration). My villains mostly abuse power and treat others unfairly.

And I can see how these qualities definitely are in my shadow. They are obviously there, since I recognize them in others. And they are in the shadow, since I don’t see them so clearly in myself.

Two questions

So just by asking ourselves two simple questions – who were my childhood heroes, and who are the villains in my world – we can see ourselves more clearly.

My daylit life mirrors to some extent the life of my heroes. It is what I am exited about in my life, what I would like to be, how I would like myself and others to see me. And my shadow life is the life of my villains. Those parts of me and others I would rather not where there, and I find easier to see in others than in myself.

Driven

 

Another topic that keeps coming up for me…

We can be driven. In Voice Dialogue, Process Work and other approaches, this is seen as something in us pushing us. There is a voice or a figure pushing us. And there is an element of compulsion, obsessiveness, and lack of freedom in this. It is somewhat contracted.

There can be an apparent absence drive. From the Byron Katie inquiries, it can be seen as coming from beliefs holding us back, draining us of energy and passion. In a way, this too is a drive although towards lack of engagement. Or, it can probably also happen in an awakening process where the drive has dropped away and something else has not yet taken its place.

And there can be an absence of drive in a conventional sense, and the presence of engagement and passion. In the awakening process, this deepens as (a) the neurotic drives are seen through and erode and (b) there is a new passion and engagement from the realization of selflessness, of it all as Ground manifesting, and of rehumanizing and deepening compassion.

So when we are caught up in beliefs in ideas, including the idea of I, there can be drive or lack of drive – both with a lack of freedom and a sense of compulsiveness. When these beliefs are seen through, there is a renewed engagement and passion – free from compulsiveness, free from any sense of I and Other. It is just emptiness dancing, the divine mind naturally and effortlessly manifesting throgh and as our human life. There is a sense of ease and simplicity in this, far beyond any conventional ease and simplicity.

In real life, it is of course often more interwoven than this. Drives and awakening may well co-exist in different variations.

The Problems of Separation

 

As long as I believe in the idea of I – creating an appearance of I and Other – there is suffering. And this suffering take many forms, all the ones I recognize in my own life, see in the lives of others, and I am sure many more.

A particular subset of how this is played out is feeling that others impinge on me, for instance through their ideas, behaviors, energy, or just by their plain existence – displaying some qualities that bug me.

I talked with my acupuncturist last week, and she mentioned a healer in town who specialize in separating out other’s energies from one’s own. As any other approach to healing, I am sure it is useful and has its place. At the same time, it clearly comes from duality and also from a place of believing in stories (those two are obviously the same).

If I don’t believe in stories, then there is no problem there. There is only clarity.

Anything that could be labeled “bad energy” or “disturbed” or “confused” or “unhealthy” all comes from stories, in two different ways. First, it is obviously labeled based on a story. And more importantly, when these things come up they seem to do so due to somebody’s belief in a story.

I may believe in several mutually contradictory stories, and experience confusion. I may tell myself a story about somebody – including myself – which brings up contraction and hatred. I may believe I am not worthy and act in a way that is not good for my health. And so on.

When we see through these stories for ourselves – when we find what is more true for us in our own experience, the stories are harmless. They may come and go, in ourselves and/or others around us, and they have lost their charge. They come and go with the same innocence as as clouds.

The “bad energies” and “unhealthy tendencies” apparently from others are (a) recognized in ourselves and (b) the thoughts behind them are seen through and revealed as harmless.

When I can see through my own stories, and how patterns unravel when these stories are seen through, I can also see through the stories when they appear in others. They are harmless, either way.

I see the complete innocence in myself and others.

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and I

 

… we all do the same. We…

  • See our interests threatened.
  • Fabricate evidence to justify war.
  • Act unilaterally.
  • Go to war preemptively.
  • Fight to the bitter end, even while we are loosing.

They did it a couple of times, in Afghanistan and Iraq. I do it daily, within myself.

I perceive the world from a sense of I and Other. See my interests threatened in various situations, through the actions of various people. Fabricate evidence to support my position. Go to war often before anyone else strike. And fight to the bitter end, no matter what the costs are and how it is going.

I see this over and over, through inquiry.

And I see how I am no different from Bush & company. I do exactly what they do, it only appears different to the outside world. I even get the same media coverage, only that this media coverage is in my own mind – playing the current news reels over and over.

In seeing this, I am actually more able to do something about it – when it appears in me and in the outer world. Doing something, without the charge that comes from seeing it only in them, and seeing them as different from me.

Squeezed

 

In ourselves as individuals and groups, there are certain qualities and views which are welcome, some that are neutral, and some that are less welcome.

Individual shadows

Somewhat rambling…

When this occurs at our individual level, those qualities and views which are less welcome – those which does not fit with how we would like to see ourselves – are often referred to as the shadow.

They are there, but typically seen more easily in others, and then as unwelcome even there, as a disturbance, something we wish would go away. They appear to remind us on qualities in ourselves we don’t appreciate.

Although really – they remind us that we have an exclusive self-identity, one that is less inclusive than life itself. It is a reminder that we have an identity in the first place, and our core identity is the belief in the idea of I – placed on only a segment of what is.

As long as there is the belief in I, there will be an exclusive identity. Some parts of the terrain fit with this identity, and other parts do not fit – and are experienced as a disturbance.

So this experience of a disturbance, of discomfort, is a gentle and persistent reminder of not being aligned with what is. We believe in the idea of I, and thus a relatively fixed and limited identity, while there is no I inherent in any aspect of what is. What is, is simple selflessness.

The belief in the idea of I clashes with selflessness – inherent in all there is and existence itself, so there is bound to be a degree of suffering there. And this suffering and discomfort, this nagging sense of something being not quite right, can only be resolved through realizing selflessness.

Group shadows

The same dynamic shows up at group levels – in couples, families, smaller groups, communities, countries, and globally.

As a group, we may have a certain identity formed by the reason for and/or history of the group, and there is also an automatic identity formed by the shared identity of the most influential group participants.

So here also, there is an identity – explicit although most often implicit, and certain qualities and views fit this identity and other qualities and views do not fit this identity so well. Some are easily welcome, others are less welcome.

This is just a natural aspect of group dynamics, but it can be quite distressing for those group participants who feel that something is coming up in them which is marginalized by the group. No matter how apparently open and welcoming the group is, or intends to be, this seems to happen.

The only remedy may be to set aside time specifically to address what has been left out of the group, to explicitly welcome in the marginalized qualities and views and the people in which these come up.

Deeksha group

In the deeksha group Sunday, this happened. As it would in any group.

During our first deeksha, I mainly experienced nothing at all – apart from various forms of resistance coming up. Others I talked with later similarly reported experiencing nothing at all.

Yet, when we shared our experiences in the group, these views were clearly marginalized. Those speaking up all had various remarkable experiences to report, often one more “spiritual” than the other. An atmosphere was created where the voicing of unremarkable experiences did not seem to fit in, or invited in.

This partly has to do with the facilitation, creating the expectation in the group of certain types of experiences. And it partly has to do with the participants in the group, wanting this for the group and themselves.

Both created an atmosphere where experiences of plain resistance or of nothing remarkable at all were marginalized, not exactly not welcome, but not explicitly welcomed either.

To remedy this in such a group atmosphere, there needs to be an explicit welcoming in of those qualities and views, a time set aside for welcoming them in, and even explicitly honoring them as valid contributions to the group. This helps everyone to find it in themselves, and see how these were previously left out of the group sharings.

These are all natural group dynamics. Marginalization happens. And it typically takes a very conscious effort to allow whatever has been marginalized – views, experiences, qualities and those identifying with them – into the group, often through setting aside a time for explicitly welcoming them in and honoring them.