A Psychology of Glowing

Be good or you’ll get coal!

On Christmas morning of my 4th year of life, I awoke, running full throttle to the living room to see what Santa had brought. With enthusiasm I reached into my stocking to find screws, nails, nuts and bolts; shame and inadequacy. My heart dropped. Santa had disapproved of me. I felt bad, and unworthy. I didn’t know exactly what I had done, but Santa knew and Santa was akin to God.

This was a turning point for me, a time when the original Light of my effervescent innocence dimmed. A great master, Santa, along with my parents, had defined me. And I accepted their perception. Perhaps you too remember a time when the world offered a definition, label or a name for what you are that wounded, violated, and darkened your heart. Perhaps you molded that judgment into a conceptual reality, believed it to be true, and began to live as an effect of that thought. Perhaps your belief came to justify anger, resentment, fear or smallness. I wonder who would we might be without our past, and the beliefs we take to the core of our being? Certainly whatever glowed within me at four was clouded by the shadow of that dark moment.

A psychology of glowing is a psychology that illumines the truth of self, a self that is radiant, and infinite, limitless and certain. Its psychotherapy is a process of peeling away the shadows, the erroneous beliefs and thought systems to reveal a Sun, a sage, a being of innocence and power, light and joy.   At the center of our self we find illumination. This light is not the kind of thing that screws into the top of a lamp, but is an inner awakening that dispels the darkness of judgment. When we look out from this light, it penetrates the veils of ignorance. It is inseparable from knowledge and indivisible from love. It is what is true about us but defies naming.  Glowing is our real nature, the substance of our life.

The Golden Buddha

There is a wonderful parable that I would like to share with you as it exemplifies the theme of glowing. I believe I read a similar story in one of Alan Cohen’s wonderful books and I have given it my own spin.

On a hilltop overlooking a peaceful village, there was a sacred temple where there stood a golden Buddha. It was made of tons of pure gold, interlaid with precious gems and holy inscriptions. It stood as tall as 10 men, and was visible   for miles, reflecting great rays upon the village. Many visitors came there to meditate and pray.

The monks who cared for the Golden Buddha heard one day that an army was coming to plunder the village. A plan was devised to keep the statue from being stolen.

Villagers and monks worked tirelessly through the night praying and dousing the Buddha in mud, stones and mortar. At dawn the last pail was poured over his head. It quickly dried into cement.

The next day an army arrived.  They ransacked the village, but walked through the garden overlooking the Buddha in disguise.  Peace resumed, the people went back to their activities. Years passed. One by one, the monks who had been a part of the plan to protect the Buddha passed away. There was not one person left who knew the true nature of the cement icon.

By chance one day a young monk decided sit at the feet of the statue.  A piece fell away. Before long, the entire monastery was out in the garden with hammers and chisels, chipping away to reveal the Buddha within.

We are in many ways like this Golden Buddha. Once upon a time we shielded ourselves from destruction, from being plundered. We took on a false identity and forgot our true nature.  Little by little we came to believe in our own deception.

Waking up is like discovering the golden Buddha within. Who we are is not what we perceive. In the little village of humanity we are suffering with an identity crisis. We have doused our light in cement, seeking shelter, safety, and protection from the world. Thank God I have had teachers and friends who have thought to chip away at my veneer, and not so delicately. Thank God I have had the inspiration to sit at the feet of my mud-encased self to seek something truer.

Coming from Tradition to Honor Inner Knowing

I had come from a traditional Psychology program. I was departmental scholar, (at least until I told them of my plans for a master’s degree in a holistic program.) I was Magna Cum Laude. I loved the idea of studying mind, body and spirit as a whole greater than the sum of its parts.  My own experiences proved that thoughts have creative power and the capacity to heal. I saw the hypocrisy of a science that claimed objectivity and fragmented the world, leaning too heavily on intelligence and the brain.  I saw the pretense of a clinical model that had no cures, but lots of magic bullets for taming or coping with what I believed was an erroneous thought system.  Everything was based on perception, and science itself had proved that was unreliable. There was too much that did not make sense, and not enough integrity in the medical models.

Traditional psychotherapy divided patient and therapist. The patient was deemed sick, the therapist correct, superior, sane and knowledgeable. From that view there was a pecking order in mental illness with the therapist claiming the voice of sanity and power at the top.  That never worked for me. I had the dualistic belief that we are all insane, neurotic, split in mind, holding both an unmaimable perfect light and a shadow of horrific capacities. I saw death as the ultimate aim of the ego, and life as the truth of Self. I wondered at the morality of psychotherapy, the limited subjects deemed appropriate for study by psychological associations and educational programs, the inability to look at our  spiritual self and our values. I wondered at the role of money in the therapeutic relationship, the taboo on altered states of consciousness, and the validity of personal experience.

I rebelled against traditions, personal and professional, to explore the vast uncharted territory of transcendence, soul, higher consciousness, love, altered states, paranormal phenomena, existentialism, drama and art, poetry, laughter, sacred relationship, mysticism, meditation, energy, etc.  I read the works of the Gnostics, the humanists, existentialists, eastern philosophies, Sufi’s, Paramahansa Yogananda Teilhard De Chadin, James, Roger Brown, Virginia Satir, Joel Goldsmith, Jung, Campbell, Mary Magdalene, the cult schools, mystics and monks, Wilber, Almaas, Casteneda, and many others. A Course in Miracles offered a way of combining psychology and spirituality.  It offered a discipline of mind, self-understanding through inner guidance, and a method for healing through forgiveness. The Course suggested that all healing was of the mind. Heal our illusions and discover the radiant Self within.

A psychology of glowing seeks to bring our darkness to light through the tool of forgiveness. Forgiveness has nothing to do with pardoning bad behaviors from the standpoint of being above another. It has nothing to do with allowing bad behavior to go unchallenged, or to be the victim of another’s unkind escapades. It has nothing to do with the reality of the appearance of injustice and our interpretations about life, situations and events.

It is seeing beyond those behaviors at something within us that is infinitely more real. It is about healing the mind of illusions. It is about knowing that at the center of our being we are all innocent. We are all crying out for love in the most unusual, neurotic and incomprehensible ways. Forgiveness offers a radical answer: A cry for love is healed by bringing Love to it.

A psychology of glowing recognizes the light of the world is within us. Indeed we are that Light. We can shine through the veils of ignorance if we are willing to awaken from the stupor of separation, guilt, and fear. The Source of that Light is something infinitely greater than our small self. We come to be light because we are created by It. We are in fact, a great ray of thought with all of the attributes of the Source Itself: wisdom, creativity, power and holiness, free to extend exactly as we receive.  Free to love.  The work is peeling away the layers of guilt to find the flame. Once we have a glimpse of iit, we fan it, we protect it, and we share it.

A psychology of glowing recognizes that each time we judge or attack that is the same as attacking our Self. In an indivisible reality we are One. Our being, our seeing has an effect on everything. We are not separate, and our perceptions are always a projection of what it is we believe about our self and others in a given moment. Through forgiveness, I have learned about the power of thoughts to create the world I see. I have learned that there is no world apart from me. The world is within. I have discovered that attack and defense manifest dis-ease.

A psychology of glowing offers the world its innocence. And innocence, our essential wholeness, offers us freedom; freedom from guilt, freedom to create. We never have a reason to fear that anything we could ever do in this world, where we all are crying out for love, help and attention…nothing can really separate us from the truth of our Self, our light, our holiness. That is unchangeable, true, and forever, no matter how many layers of cement come between reality and Self.  I have happily taken up the hammer and chisel  to become more and more of Love’s Presence in this world.