One of the real dicey things about being in the role of mentor, teacher or way shower is the cul-de-sac of being put on a pedestal and being treated like the “awakened one” who is in a place that they are not. After this exchange I realized that I had fallen into this trap. As I reflected on how this occurred I came up with a number of different possibilities.
The first of these is that the state of consciousness that I am in when I work with people is the true Self mostly clear and revealed. But this is not the totality of my experience or any one's experience even the highest beings. The second is very subtle and is really the result of a larger phenomena. There is a meme in the collective unconscious that holds the idea that when we are awakened(whatever that means exactly), as a result of the awakening we also immediately have no more shadow stuff to deal with. What drives this collective illusion is the desperate hope that this might be true. It’s what we would all hope for. Instant enlightenment and them no more painful and messy psycho-emotional stuff to deal with ever again. Endless nirvana and the perfection of Christ or the Buddha.
Many of the contemporary spiritual approaches, especially in the New Age, really buy into this idea and sell quick easy solutions to dealing with all the stuff that arises in the journey. Sure, much of it really does have value in reducing the number and intensity of our “stuff” experiences. But all too often, the basic message stated or unstated is that this will help you get past your stuff, permanently and forever.
In 40 years of my own journey and working with many other people I've never seen anyone have an instant enlightenment followed by a complete cessation of all ego~personality distortion(mental or emotional and spiritual). Jack Kornfeld, a contemporary buddhist teacher wrote a wonderful book entitled, “After The Ecstasy, The Laundry”. I highly recommend this gem for anybody on the path. In his book Jack lifts the veil of the illusion of freedom from all issues, by citing the experiences of himself and many of the other spiritual teachers that he knows well. The universal message that comes from this book is that not only did all of these spiritual teachers and leaders continue to have issues in their lives even after powerful illuminations and realizations, but in many cases the rate of stuff surfacing and the power of the material actually increased instead of getting less.
There is a reason for this. The more light that pours in, the more the subconscious darkness is brought to the surface. There is figure 8 process in the spiritual journey in which the more we ascend into the superconscious, luminous realms, the more we also descend into the dark, subconscious realms. All the light wants to become embodied and we need to purify all that is unlike our higher, spiritual nature so it can be lived and expressed. The more presence and illumination, the greater the light we have to shine into the depths of the unconscious.
As we awaken we are also given a greater capacity to face and embrace the more painful and distorted parts of our being, things that we couldn't have faced without the benefit of the awakenings. So it's not the exception, but the rule that things usually go into deeper and often more difficult shadow territory as awakening progresses. We don't just simply turn on the light and we’re suddenly a perfect being.
But again, this meme is something those on the path frequently buy into as the vision for their own journey of awakening. It makes sense to want to do so. Who wouldn't want to be beyond the surfacing of all the stuff. It's not easy and usually painful, and at best inconvenient. And so this illusory idea tends to get projected on those that are put into a role of being awakened. And if there is any need to be viewed as someone in a higher illumined state, it is easy to unconsciously or consciously buy into the illusion of perfection and to hide or at least avoid revealing the darker unresolved human parts of their nature.
All we have to do is look at all the stories of fallen teachers and gurus over the last few decades as a testimony to this. Many of them have been placed in positions of being almost godlike beings by their students and devotees. While it is true that many really do embody their divinity, what is excluded from the overall picture is that they still have often very deep and distorted aspects in their human nature as well.
I know that I have at least partially been caught in the same trap in the past. There was an unconscious fear that if I revealed all the parts of my human self, on the stage of my life service, that I wouldn't meet the projections or expectations of those who came to me and I would be put aside by them. To me it seemed logical to simply rest in the higher consciousness that I am in when I work with people and let it be that and not get into the rest of because it didn't seem relevant. There is also the desire and need not to bring one's own personal issues into a relationship in which you are the mentor, teacher or facilitator because it muddies the water. It's about being there for them. Underneath it all, however, were fragments of buying into this meme that I should be someplace that I'm not and that the highest illuminations and the darkest shadow stuff cannot exist side-by-side without discounting the light because of the dark.
For all the reasons I stated above, as long as one lives in a human form in the realms of duality, the higher we go deeper the deeper we also must go. Weaving the light and the dark, the super conscious and the subconscious, is the way we grow spiritually. It is the journey. And this process of ascent and descent goes on from the beginning until the end.
Probably the greatest being to ever walk this planet, Christ Jesus, sweat blood in the Garden of Gethsemene on the eve of his crucifixion. This was a being who healed the sick, cast out demons, materialized food and drink for masses of people, walked on water and raised the dead, yet he still had human thoughts, feelings and emotions. In light of this, can we change our meme of instant enlightenment with no more stuff, and throw it out the window for ever? To do so sure makes our journey easier because doing so brings us in alignment with Truth.
We are here to bring the highest of the heights into the deepest of the depths; to fuse the luminous realms of spirit and the deep, dark realms of matter. Only when we reach final liberation and no longer inhabit a human form will we escape the imperfections and distortions of the human realms.
What can and does happen is, that as we awaken, we cease to identify with the distortions of our human nature. We know the truth of who we really are, and as the “stuff” surfaces it simply passes across the screen of being with all of its manifestations and results, and we do not suffer because we are not in any way identified or resisting what is occurring. We see it all is just another cloud passing across the empty sky of being, knowing that the truth is always that empty sky and that all clouds are transitory and will certainly pass. In this state of consciousness, we no longer suffer because suffering is borne of judging and resisting what is. When we know that this is all part and parcel of the process of awakening we sink into a deep imperturbable peace and contentment knowing that all is well and perfect despite the rising of the impaired imperfections of our human nature.