Tag Archives: Religion

The One thing I would tell everyone

Kat asked me last night what I think is the most important thing that people need as far as spiritual, emotional, and health support. This is something we think about a lot in our soul crafts of spiritual support (me), yoga teaching (her), and resilient community building (both). I thought long and hard about what I have learned so far in my many, many conversations with patients and spiritual seekers, people in pain and people who are thriving.

There are so many stubborn people. Men and women who desperately cling to how they have always done things, how their church tells them they should think and believe, how the supermarkets advertise, or how their families pressure them. They resist change and they suffer. I want to grab their faces in my hands and ask, “Do you really feel this way? Do you really think that? Does eating this or that really make you feel good?!? BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE TO!! Listen to your heart. Listen to your body. Follow it’s lead.”

People need to be affirmed, honored and celebrated that they can trust their heart, that they their personal experience of Divine love is valid and worth something. Ironically to follow the crowd, to feel the pressure of the system or the hierarchy to think and feel a certain way without the affirmation of one’s uniqueness is a profoundly lonely experience. How many pastors really want to say the things that they feel they must say so as to not make their parishioners too uncomfortable? Why do we twist, bend, argue, and force ourselves to believe in a God or a way of living that when we really listen to our hearts doesn’t feel good or compelling at all?

Your unique and personal experience of your soul, of Spirit, of transcendence, is worth something. It is important and valid and true to you. It is written on your heart. I want to know about it. I don’t want to know what someone else has told you that you have to believe, I want to know what you feel, wonder about, and live by. And I hope that at least in my company, you will feel free, unfettered, and fully welcome.

May you recognize in your life the presence
Power and light of your soul.

 May you realize that you are never alone,
That your soul in its brightness and belonging
Connects you intimately with the rhythm of the universe.

 ~John O’Donohue

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Idealizing transference and religion

Had some thoughts after church today, coming from worship and also from many experiences as a chaplain. As one who gravitates towards psychoanalysis (especially Kohut’s theory of Self Psychology) and spiritual direction (especially the tradition of the Christian mystic), there are some things that stand out to me differently from when I did my theological training in seminary. As one who has merely scratched the surface of Self Psychology, I may butcher the theory as I reflect on this, but I hope it provides some usefulness as we think about God, religion, and a deeper awareness of the Self.

Self Psychology breaks down the three basic self object needs into mirroring, idealizing, and twinship. Mirroring is hearing from caregivers that I am wonderful, special, and valuable. Idealizing is having someone I can rely on who is a image of “calmness, infallibility, and omnipotence.” Twinship is having those who I can feel similar to and be in like relationship to. When these needs are not met sufficiently, an individual suffers from self object need derailment and will seek to meet these needs in increasingly unconscious ways – self object need transference.

It is the Idealizing transference that I pick up on a lot with religion. It makes sense to me and it fits when it is minor. It can be helpful, good, and stabilizing to the self to give God

There is significant benefit in seeing the God who exists both in light and darkness, in presence and in absence.

the role of a perfect, stable, faithful foundation. After all, to make this transference with a human makes for a much quicker “frustration” as a human is soon to let us down at some point. But this frustration is what we need to form a health sense of self. In religion this idealizing transference can go overboard, with some potential life-shattering results.

Essentially, an idealized transference happens when there is a low sense of self worth, an ingrained feeling of not being able to do it on my own. Often fathers and elders meet this basic idealizing need, and in recent history of suppressed emotional expression, working away from home, and at times, narcissistic tendencies, many men and women suffer from a deep woundedness in this area. If we have not had good relationships with idealized figures who show their lack of perfection and therefore encourage us to hold ground in our self, we will constantly be looking for others (God/Jesus included) to be that foundation.

Sadly, and often, life happens for people and their faith is shattered because God doesn’t seem to pull through for them. This is very real and frankly, many of our worship songs don’t prepare us for this. I see this in the hospital, and it is one of the reasons I say to people, “I have come to learn that often the answers we easily come to in church, don’t really fit in the hospital.” There is significant benefit in seeing the God who cannot be so easily pinned down and understood, the God who is at times unexpected (the Wild Goose in the Celtic tradition), the God who exists both in light and darkness, in presence and in absence.

This is such a scratching of the surface, but it gets me thinking. Here’s a really good from a therapist/mother’s perspective: Demigods on Eggshells.

Dig your well deep

It is not naive or small-minded to settle on one spiritual path or rest with one tradition or religion. There is a time in life for being skeptical, for questioning everything, but it is only good for a time. It doesn’t do a lot of good for the long run. The ego wants to keep us in a place of questioning, just as it wants to keep us in a place of surety.

We must dig a well deep within our tradition. Learn the tools of the other wells, yes, but find the well we will dig or we will never get to the life-water that is deep under the surface. To dig many shallow wells in many traditions never gets us to the water. When we finally get deep down, we find that there is only one water… one life. But we have found it with our well. I will meet you there in the underground aquifer of love, Truth, and union.

When we come out the other side, when we cross over that line of being done with the skepticism, we recognize that that time was good, just as the time for literalism was good. In the place, we see that we have much farther to go on the journey, many places to find ourselves, and it is ok that we are not there yet.

Rohr – Christians have a phd in “either/or”

Thank you for your words, once again, Richard. Here, he talks about the all-too-common dualism in Christianity (about the 7:00 mark). From the Evolutionary Christianity website.

Richard Rohr on Evolutionary Christianity

Other highlights…

  • how did we go from the inclusive son of God, who spends time with tax collectors, sinners, and prostitutes into an exclusive religion in his honor? (44:00)
  • all creation is incarnation, not just in us, or in Jesus, but all the way back t0 15 billion years ago.
  • If it’s compassion, it’s universal compassion.
  • If only we can stop seeing ourselves merely as a religion in competition with, and see ourselves as a gift, as all religions are a gift to us. If we can just be Jesus to the world and let the cards fall where they may (as Mother theresa said). If Christians could just be Jesus, rather than making him into a product or an opponent, always one who builds boundaries instead of bridges… that would be the evolution of Christianity and a much more gracious world. (54:00)

The Golden Egg

A STORY as told by Fr. Anthony de Mello:

A reading from the scriptures:

This is what the Lord says: There was once a goose that laid a golden egg each day. And the farmer’s wife, who owned the goose, delighted in the riches that those eggs brought her. She was an avaricious woman, however, and could not wait patiently from day to day for her daily egg. She decided to kill the goose and get the eggs all at once.

Thus far the word of God!

An atheist heard that text from the scriptures and scoffed: You call that the word of God! A goose that lays golden eggs! It just goes to show the absurdity of your scriptures.

When a religious scholar read that text, he reacted thus: The Lord clearly tells us that there was a goose that laid golden eggs. If the Lord says this, then it must be true, no matter how absurd it appears to our poor human minds.

Now you will ask, as well you may, how an egg, while not ceasing to be an egg, can, at the same time, be golden. Different schools of religious thought attempt to explain it differently. But what is called for here is an act of faith in this mystery that baffles human understanding.

There was even a preacher who, inspired by that text, traveled through towns and villages zealously urging people to accept the fact that God had created golden eggs at some point in history.

It is better to teach people the evils of avarice than to promote belief in golden eggs.