“Thinking noble thoughts does not connect us with the Holy; only the ability to feel love for ourselves and others does that.”
I recently posted this quote from Healing the Sacred Divide on Twitter and received the following comment from Amrita. “Yes, over the years of introspection, I have [come to understand] that in order to know the whole one needs to know the dark as well…to know positive , one must be aware of the negative and one must not act negative as it would amount to bad karma. The whole self-help industry talks about being positive but it doesn’t explain all the mysteries. Do explain it in your blog…”
There are so many dimensions to this issue that I could write books about it. But I’ll try to distill it into two posts by going straight to the core (or coeur) of the matter: the heart. I’m reminded of the saying, “You can pretend to care, but you can’t pretend to show up.” The mysteries are not about pretending to love and care: they’re about feeling and manifesting love and care. Feeling and being are key.
Humanity has always intuited that the mysteries revolve around love. Loving feelings are prayers from which everything good flows. Tenderness, kindness, healing, peace. Compassion. Choices to forgive, set aside hurt and anger, sacrifice our ego’s need for revenge so others won’t get hurt: these are choices to love.
Using self-discipline, will power and positive affirmations and intentions to be more loving is, of course, a step in the right direction. But mental activity without physical and emotional participation is not enough. Sometimes it’s just a band-aid the ego sticks on the surface of a wound to avoid dealing with deeper, more painful realities. Every ego experiences wounding, and we all try to protect ourselves by repressing, disowning, ignoring or escaping. But until our psychic wounds are addressed and healed, the pain always oozes back into our awareness. Sometimes it’s so overwhelming that our mental discipline crumbles and our positive affirmations have no effect at all.
“In the realm of feeling…Western man is apt to be the puppet of his unconscious moods.”
–M. Esther Harding
We tell ourselves to blow off someone’s unkind words, but our vulnerable, innocent child within thinks, “What did I do?” and we start feeling hurt and sad. If we don’t catch those feelings right away, we move on to feeling wronged and resentful. We think, “I don’t deserve to be treated this way!” and now we’re really angry. Saying we love the person who elicited this response doesn’t make the anger go away and they can feel it whether we admit to it or not. If we’re not feeling love and they’re not feeling lovable, no one is convinced.
Or we knock ourselves out trying to look fabulous and act adorable and pleasing so we’ll be loveable and loved. But this takes a lot of work that uses up a psychological energy. When there’s no energy left we let down our guard; then the least little thing sets us off. Resentment and pettiness and self-loathing creep in, and the attitudes and actions that spew out into the world have nothing to do with love.
Unloving feelings that destroy our resolve to love are aspects of the unhealed and disowned parts of ourselves we call our dark shadow. When the shadow walks in the door, positive thoughts and will power fly out the window and the results are utterly predictable. Toxic feelings from unhealed wounds birth toxic behaviors. That’s just the way we’re made.
This is why getting in touch with our true feelings is the first step to connecting with the Holy. I’ll discuss the second step next time.