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Healing the Politics of Fear – Part 2

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Here in this article I will continue to cover the terrain of the politics of fear not covered in the last article. If you observe closely, the Trump presidency is the perfect metaphor for what is happening to all of us at the deepest level. We are being exposed to a president who simply cannot concede power graciously. Why is this so? Because he is a metaphor for the clinging tenacity of what the Buddhists call ego and can also be called the false personality that we all struggle with as human beings. The false personality is a pretender to the throne. It is narcissistic in nature and conceives of itself as the sole self-important being in the universe. This ego self senses that it is an illegitimate pretender competing against the essence self for dominion over the body. Desperately attempting to remain in control of its delusional fantasy that it is the real boss over Spirit, it grasps at smaller and smaller straws. At the deepest of levels, it knows that its fantasy is not true, but it wants it to be true.

This is the shadow self that we all live with and it is our destiny as humans to overcome this delusion, dispose of it, and recognize the greater self within, the one that truly has no limits and is actually in charge of everything. The false personality is terrified of this fact and seeks to use all its limited powers to preserve the delusion. In a word, it wants to be “comfortable” in the delusion and seeks validity and acceptance of it through dominance and manipulation. This can work over the course of many lifetimes but it is a scary proposition because there are always threats to its comfort zone. When threatened, the false personality doubles down and triples down and seeks in every way possible to stay in control. Does this sound familiar? It will not concede no matter what until the inevitable occurs, that it is threatened to the core by the true reality. This is a tremendously unstable situation that can call for desperate measures on its part.

There are several possible outcomes for the false personality (tyrant) at this point: 1. The conflict becomes so great the false personality begins to fragment and insanity ensues. 2. The personality begins to fragment but through desperate measures including collecting enough support of allies, who are basically under the same delusion, it manages the situation back into the comfort zone. This is sometimes called successfully managing a coup which is basically a temporary holding pattern. 3. The false personality fragments and the essence self is liberated to take over the situation. This is often called self-realization or enlightenment. For this to happen the person needs to be an old enough soul with the experience to tolerate this radical assemblage point shift. That is not possible for a younger soul, not because it is their fault but because you cannot expect an eight-year old to handle a crisis of adult proportions.

You can see how the current political situation mirrors all this to perfection. This is our story, each and every one of us. Recently I have been asking Spirit for clarification about this whole “presidential elections” business so that I could understand it better. Ask and you shall receive. As I was meditating recently I began to confront such a crisis in my own consciousness. I found areas that my false personality was extremely resistant to looking at. This, of course, was not the first time I have noticed this but the order of magnitude of it was significantly stronger. I kept bringing myself back to characters in my life that I could not consciously forgive or see as Spirit.

There was something deeper, more subconscious than what I was comfortable looking at. However, I kept forcing myself back to looking and, as you can guess, what was revealed was deep-seated fear. There was something in me holding the line on keeping certain attitudes in place. I asked what would happen if I let go of the fear. The answer was evident. If I let go of my resistance to the various bullies I have encountered, I would have to take responsibility for what I perceived they did to me, or could have done to me. That led me to understand that the fear was really about extinction. They could exile me, make me a pariah that would lead to everyone abandoning me or they could entrap me making me forever their slave and that would lead to a life not worth living, a different kind of death. These of course are the two primary irrational fears that all human beings possess, the fear of abandonment and the fear of entrapment.

Curiously, as I progressed in my examination of this strange and disagreeable phenomenon, it was revealed to me that the fears of abandonment and entrapment were actually not about these individuals but were really about Spirit itself, the ultimate projected bully. The worse possible scenario would be that I was abandoned by Spirit, either that Spirit would ignore my plight or that there is no Spirit, the ultimate abandonment. Even more interesting to me was the discovery that I was actually afraid of Spirit entrapping me. I impagined that Spirit could entrap me in several ways. One way is that Spirit could demand that I give up all pleasures and fun in life, kind of like heading for the monastery. Another way is that Spirit could demand of me something I was unwilling to give. I was assisted in understanding this through a specific memory from my childhood that suddenly surfaced. The memory was from my earliest years and the details elude me but the theme is what is important. I had gotten in some kind of trouble with my mother but at the time I did not feel I had done anything wrong. It may have been because my brother actually did it but I just don’t remember. My mother decided not to speak to me and gave me the cold shoulder until I apologized to her. I held out as long as I could but, being a small child, I desperately needed her approval. I felt trapped by the situation and after several days I found I had no other recourse but to apologize to her even though I did not understand why I was apologizing. It seemed totally unjust. This led me into a kind of personal crisis. When I finally broke down and apologized I burst into tears and I could tell she thought I cried because I was so sorry but actually I cried because I was forced into an untenable situation and I felt broken like a horse might be. I buried that memory but now I realize that for me at the time, she was like a goddess, too strong for me to argue with.

My having had to surrender my integrity in order to be forgiven by my mother seems similar to letting go of my attachments to become closer to Spirit. They are not the same but the old memory brings up fear that the same thing might happen to me. I will have to let go of what I consider essential to gain Spirit’s acceptance. My deep decision at the time was that I would never surrender under any circumstances again when I did not agree with what I was surrendering. This led me to contemplate the extreme behavior of Donald Trump in refusing to concede. Like him I was desperate but perhaps unlike him I was biologically a child and I had no alternatives to help me manage. So, I simply went on strike way down deep inside of me and have been on strike ever since. What I did not know was that I was on strike with Spirit about forgiving difficult characters in my life, like my mother and others.

I am not so different from any other human being. We all have our versions of what I experienced, perhaps with different characters or circumstances. These things run us at deep levels and keep us from getting what we want. On the surface I have no problem with essence running my life. In truth it would be a welcome relief, no problem, a life without worry or fear. What’s not to like about that? But if it means extinction, abandonment, entrapment, or the loss of all pleasure, an untenable loss, then perhaps it is a different story. Then I will fight tooth and nail to be what my false personality believes is free. The cure for this crisis is to see with absolute clarity what the confusion was all about. How many more deeply buried memories and decisions might there be that hold the comfortable old paradigm in place, keeping the mysterious new from flooding in?

The solution to this is the ancient shamanic practice of stalking – tracking the faint trails that lead to such beasts that lie within. To an experienced stalker the faint trails are highways. To the metaphorically inexperienced stalker tracking the faint trails would be much more difficult. Fortunately, I am getting better at it.

Hopefully you will be able to hold Mr. Trump and his close delusional allies in a slightly different light now. He, of course, is us when we are locked into the terrible crisis of thinking that we are the false personality and it appears to be at risk. At this level we simply behave like machines, entirely predictable if you understand the dynamics. Ultimately it is our destiny to discover that we are not machines, that we are free to go where no woman or man has gone before. As the hummingbird demonstrates, it is to do what appears to be impossible for others or impossible for our former selves. In the end, all false personalities will topple because that is their destiny and surrender to the essence is the ultimate destiny for every one of us. It just takes time. This offers you a glimpse at what lies just ahead. All tyrants are doomed to topple and anyone who clings to them will topple with them.  I will leave you here with a couple of metaphors that might be helpful.

Imagine that in your dark basement you have been keeping a prisoner. You send them some food now and then but you don’t want to go down there for fear of what you might see or find. One day you work up your courage and you go down the stairs surreptitiously and suddenly flip on the light. What you see horrifies you, squalor beyond belief, mountains of shit, and a horrendous filthy prisoner covered with boils. You want to flip off the light fast and go back upstairs but now that you have seen, you cannot forget what is in the darkness. This is the first step to righting the wrongs and setting your prisoner free. Now you have to deal with the shit. This is what we have done as a nation. Having Trump for president has been like the light switch that bathed everything in light. It seems very bad but it is really what was there all along inside ourselves. Time to get to work.

Imagine a great tree that has died in your backyard and you must remove it before it topples on your house. Every day you go out with an axe and chip away at its dead branches and then its enormous trunk. After many days you have made a good deal of progress but still it stands, tenaciously holding on. Finally, there is that final crack and it comes tumbling down in a safe direction but you still have much debris to hack at and carry off little by little. A lighting strike could have felled it in a moment and in fact this happens sometimes. More often it is a arduous process of chipping away little by little. This is the more typical process of self-realization. However once you get into it, the regularity of your efforts becomes your exercise that you can actually look forward to and enjoy.

Enjoy.

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José Stevens

José Luis Stevens, PhD is the president and co-founder (with wife Lena) of Power Path Seminars, an international school and consulting firm dedicated to the study and application of shamanism and indigenous wisdom to business and everyday life. José completed a ten-year apprenticeship with a Huichol (Wixarika) Maracame (Huichol shaman) in the Sierras of Central Mexico. In addition, he is studying with Shipibo shamans in the Peruvian Amazon and with Paqos (shamans) in the Andes in Peru. In 1983 he completed his doctoral dissertation at the California Institute of Integral Studies focusing on the interface between shamanism and western psychological counseling. Since then, he has studied cross-cultural shamanism around the world to distill the core elements of shamanic healing and practice. He is the author of twenty books and numerous articles including Encounters With Power, Awaken The Inner Shaman, The Power Path, Secrets of Shamanism, Transforming Your Dragons and How To Pray The Shaman's Way.