I was recently reading Cynthia Borgeault’s remarkable book The Meaning of Mary Magdalene. In this book, on page 142 to be exact, Cynthia quotes an adage from the early Church fathers: “That which is not lived is not redeemed.” Cynthia paraphrases this as “That which is not accepted is not transformed.” These sayings hit me hard and I jotted them down on my legal pad and sat with them for a few days.
As the readers of this may or may not know, I have been engaged in transformative inner practice for going on six years now and have been working with others to develop the same practice in their lives. I’ve also recently helped to bring a new, very powerful transformative tool, the Profound Meditation Program, into the world. Many of us who are using this product’s technology are getting our worlds rocked.
One of the things that enhanced meditative technology does very well is get to our trauma and our shadow issues. In his teachings, Ken Wilber has often stated that normal meditation just doesn’t reach the shadow—that one can observe it in meditation, but it does not really become transformed or released. In other words, just to see your self-hatred, for example, is not to heal it. It is a step in the right direction because it comes into awareness, and that which was not understood or known becomes an object of consciousness. There it is. I hate myself. But that does not transform it. It is an essential step, and in the right direction, but it is just a first step.
So what must we do? We must live it and accept it and go deeply into the darkness of our self-hatred, or whatever the shadow issue we are dealing with, and simply be present with it.
I think many people who are using the Profound Meditation Program would like to think of it as happy sounds—if I listen to this, I will feel better, my brain chemistry will optimally balance, my brain will function at a higher level, and all will be good. Well, that is certainly partially true. But oftentimes, I hear reports from people using the meditation tool, who are beginning to run into their shadow issues and their demons in their meditation, who therefore think it is not working. They may be experiencing floods of terrifying thoughts and images, sensations in the body that will feel like pain in the heart or gut, anxiety, etc. But this does not mean it isn’t working. Rather it means it is working. One of the essential and great promises of this technology is that it opens the doors of our heart and the doors of our unconscious and enables us to be fully present with our darkness, our sins, our pains, and our sufferings, both individual and collective.
If we can hold that darkness as a gift and fully experience it, then we can indeed redeem it. And if we can hold that darkness and absolutely accept it and bless it, as the gift of God, then we can transform it. This is profoundly simple, yet at the same time amazingly difficult. But I truly believe that those of us who develop the capacity to accept that which is unacceptable inside of us, those of us who develop the capacity to fully hold in our hearts, our bodies, and our minds that which we have always both consciously and unconsciously rejected and run from, will be those who will break through into the depths of our true being and will quite possibly become the guides and the leaders that we have been waiting for. Because there is no redemption, either individually or collectively, without this plunge and recognition of who and what we truly are. There is no way into this redeemed self and there is no hope without the passage into and through the darkness.
So, back to the here and now. If you are practicing with these transformative technologies, or perhaps even the transformative techniques of the past, and you are gifted with the encounter of this doorway into the dark, of this journey into Hades, know somewhere in your deepest heart that you are on the right path. And, if it feels like too much, a million times too much, and like the darkness will absolutely overwhelm and crush you and break you, know that is exactly what needs to happen. With the last bit of your hope, faith, and courage, ask God for the grace to expand and hold it. The task is not to fix it; the task is to be present. Absolutely present.
Sometimes, as we journey into our depths, our experiences can be this apocalyptic, this profoundly mysterious and mortally fearful. At other times, they are simply the annoying little pests and states that emerge moment to moment as we experience and live our lives. A friend of mine said recently, when such and such happens, it makes me feel guilty. I responded, “What do you do with your guilty feelings?” He said, “I don’t know.” And I said, “You just feel them. That’s it.” So, if your practices and your prayers and your meditations are painful, this is a good thing. Expand, bless them, and thank God, because you are on your path and both we and God have need of you.