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SteinerGMS

Du standest im Leben
Mit einem Seelengehalt,
Der wärmend und leuchtend
Die andern Seelen ergriff.

Dir strahlte die Freude,
Wenn Freuden Du konntest
Erwecken in andern,
Die freudlos Dir nahten.

Die sorgenden Herzen,
Die zogest Du zu Dir,
Und ihre Sorge zu lindern
Dir ward es zur Sorge.

Du ruhtest fest in Dir
Und konntest festigen,
Die Lebensschutz und Stütze
Bei Dir suchen wollten.

Wer Dir entgegentrat,
Ihm mußte Deines Wesens Schlichtheit
Im Innersten der Seele
Des Menschen Wert verkünden.

Was Du sprachest,
War so sonnenhaft,
Weil Du in Helle
Des sonnigen Herzen lebtest

(Rudolf Steiner, GEBETE UND MEDITATION’S SPRÜCHE) #SE261-335

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Loving-Kindness and Forgiveness

One of the most uplifting events of the last 5 months since Mirjam’s passing was the participation in a Metta/Loving Kindness retreat I attended at Te Moata. (temoata.org)

(See also: https://tricycle.org/magazine/metta-practice/ on Metta meditation)

The task of this silent 9 day retreat with Sister Veranani from Mnyanmar was to gradually develop an inclination of loving-kindness towards all beings.

We were invited to start with who it was easiest to feel loving kindness towards. Usually, one starts with oneself: “May I be well, happy and peaceful”, to wish this for myself. When I can feel this, I then extend this wish to people I respect and admire, like a spiritual teacher.

Next are people we love — our partners, dearest friends — who we visualise one by one as the recipient of our well wishes. This is then followed by neutral people, like those people who happen to live in the same neighbourhood, people who happen to sit the same retreat, our acquaintances.

The next stage is considered the hardest one, as we turn our attention to people who have harmed us — our enemies, so to speak — or someone we have difficulties with. Once this is achieved, we can include all beings and wish them well. May all be well, happy and peaceful.

You could just say it without meaning it, but it works only when you can feel it in your heart. And this takes time, feeling inward and sensing your heart. Doing a silent retreat for 9 days allows for this time. Visualising each person in front of me, connecting with my heart, I repeat this phrase over and over again, until I can feel it, and it becomes an experience, not just words.

What I found interesting was the fact that it was not easy for me to even start with myself. I had too many unexpressed feelings. In the silence of the retreat, there were many opportunities to go over and over my last weeks and months with my beloved. I tortured myself with thoughts of what I should or could have done differently, how it should or could have been. It is a form of craziness, I know that, since it takes me out of my reality and enters a mere hypothetical construct devoid of any reality. Knowing this didn’t change this form of self-torture.

Especially at night, I would keep myself awake going over old ground, over and over again. When I shared this in an interview with Sister Veranani, she gave me a useful advice that worked:

“Imagine you are sitting in a railway station, and the thoughts are like trains that come and go. You do not need to jump on any of these trains. Just observe.”

Eventually I recognized that going back into the past was simply an expression of the denial phase in a grieving process. It was a way of not wanting to face the truth that Mirjam had died.

As Byron Katie said in Loving What Is, “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.”

Honouring my limitations, my humanness, it became easier to develop loving kindness towards myself, to forgive myself and to trust that I did what I knew was the best at the time. I surrendered to reality — to what is and what was.

It was easy to extend my well wishes to people I respect, to dear friends and to the ones I felt neutral towards. The next obstacle was to extend loving kindness to people who I had felt hurt by.

In stressful times, like when a close person is in a state of dying, it brings out the best or the worst in people. Instead of being there for one another and offering support, some people around me at the time added to the stress I was feeling. What was missing was respect for me and my vulnerability. Their insensitivity made a very difficult situation sheer unbearable for me.

I was concerned about the rising stress level that must have been painful to my dying beloved, and chose to pull back. One of the last things that Mirjam asked of me was not to talk badly about other people, to not backbite. She must have been aware of my predicament.

I tried my hardest, yet the feelings of grief combined with anger about injustices that I perceived led me to express my struggles to poor friends who eventually got tired of my ranting and raving. I had such a built-up reservoir of emotions. By now, I have compassion for myself and understand that this, too, was part of my grieving process — the anger phase.

Yet, the most important lesson that I learned was not to confuse loving-kindness with pleasing. It is wonderful to develop loving-kindness for all beings. This is a way to open my heart. In the end, the benefits are mostly for me, whereas holding on to grudges only hurts me.

In the past, I had believed to be kind meant to be pleasing at all times to people, a mode that I had been conditioned in. Real kindness, however, comes from a place of strength, a place of feeling your soft, gentle power. Pleasing behaviour on the other hand is based on weakness. It is a form of manipulating people to like me. It comes from a place of insufficient self-love. As a pleaser I might seem kind to others, yet I am not kind to myself. Authentic kindness needs to come from within, from a place of abundance, of overflowing love.

Now I know that I can be kind and the well-wisher of all beings and have clear boundaries. No longer do I need to do it right by other people’s expectations. When I love myself, I feel sure in myself and no longer need to try to get from others what I refuse to give to myself.

Loving-kindness is powerless if it does not include me.

It was not easy to accept that Mirjam had gone for good. What made it harder still was that it brought up similar feelings of being lost, that I had experienced when both my parents died when I was only 16. A dear friend and healer mirrored this back to me, and helped me to forgive myself and to forgive others who were also stressed, leading me to finally accept the new situation in my life.

The powers of loving- kindness and forgiveness made it possible for me to regain a sense of reality and to begin moving on. Meanwhile, I keep creating a garden in memory of my beloved and talk to her in the spirit world. Occasionally, I get a reply from her, as I increase my intuition and notice signs.

“The spirit world is the real world. What we experience here is a mere shadow of reality. There are games that people play, ultimately it is not real.” An intuitive friend received this message from her grandmother after she had passed.

This message has given me a strong sense of relief. We can take little things so seriously and get bogged down in rigid thoughts that then become our reality. In the face of death everything else seems so insignificant. If the real world is ahead of me, I best prepare for it now by developing heart qualities, virtues that I can take with me to the spirit world. Honesty and truthfulness is asked for, as well as kindness and forgiveness.

My life is not complete yet. There is still a task in front of me. It will unfold in time, as I stay soft and gentle in accepting what is, inside of me and around me. I choose clarity over confusion, to see the obvious over wishful and self-deceptive thinking. And overall I trust in being guided and held in the divine.

Rudolf Jarosewitsch

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Life Change

The following are my facebook entries over the period of Mirjam’s death and the following weeks

What makes this time a hard time is that my beloved wife, Mirjam, is very ill at the moment. Her breast cancer that was diagnosed in September last year has now spread into her spine, liver and lungs. The decline happened very fast, despite black salve and vitamin C treatment. She has taken a big array of supplements and been to see an integrative doctor, osteopath, homeopath, naturopath, etc. In the same way, as it can move down in one way, it can also go up. That’s where our focus is at the moment, to find a way of turning it around. Please send us your prayers, good energies and supportive ideas. We need a miracle. Please help. 6 August

Thank you all for your loving thoughts and suggestions. It is not an easy time here in our hidden valley. Mirjam’s sister Anne is here and her daughter Kira. It would be too hard for me to care for her on my own, although there is some help from the district nurse and our doctor.
What is the learning for me? Soul development?
Accepting what is is not easy. Wanting to change it feels at times desperate. Even though, we are considering any option and still open for a miracle to happen.
A week ago, when I drove to pick up Kira, I saw a bright shooting star, an opportunity for a wish.
“I connect with the Creator, the source of all healing. I am ready to make the changes in my life that will allow me to accept my best possible healing outcome. I consciously remove any negative or fearful thought patterns or memories. I enable my imagination to activate to see myself as fully healed, at peace and emotionally secure. This is healing to the Creator’s standard now available for me and I feel the stirring of gratitude already active.” (Ken.healer) 13 August

These are very stressful times. Currently, I have some time out, staying at my friend’s in Thames, while Mirjam is well looked after by her sister Anne and daughter Kira. Please keep praying for us. It is a miracle that we need. 16 August

Mirjam is in Waikato hospital, where she can get the best conventional medical attention in our area.
Grief hits me, especially in small seemingly insignificant situations, like when I sit on the deck with my breakfast and remember all the times we did it together, or when I go for a walk where we used to walk together.
Please don’t take those situations for granted. Appreciate also the small, seemingly insignificant things and each other while you live and are healthy. 17 August

Grief struck!

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, tree, hat, outdoor and closeup

Beloved Mirjam has peacefully passed into the spiritual world, today 22 August at 11am.

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Thank you to all of you who have donated so kindly and generously for Mirjam’s Cure. Now, the treatment overseas that she wanted to pursue is no longer an option. Please indicate to me what you would like me to do with the money. 24 August

Just returned home from Hamilton with my beloved Mirjam’s remains in a small box. It still feels unreal, and my tears stream as I urge her to show up. Mirjam, where are you? I miss your cheeky smile, your quiet presence, your wisdom and beingness. It is slowly sinking in that you have moved on, especially after seeing your cold body.
Thanks to Sim and to Nadine for organising 2 services, one in Hamilton and one in Christchurch, and thanks to Kira for organising the artistic activity that your mother wanted.
And thanks to all of you for your comments.
Thanks to Eileen and to Jax for the photos.

The last photo of Mirjam and myself, 31 March 2017. 26 August 2017

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WHAT IS DYING

By Bishop Brent 1862-1929
(Bishop of the Philippines)

I am standing on the sea shore,
A ship at my side spreads her white
sails to the morning breeze and
starts for the blue ocean,
She is an object of beauty
and I stand and watch her
until at last she fades
on the horizon,

Then someone at my side says
“There, she has gone”
Gone where?
Gone from my sight – that is all,

She is just as large in the mast,
hull and spars as she was
when she left my side …
the diminished size and total loss
of sight is in me and not in her,
And just at that moment when
someone by my side says
“She’s gone”,
others take up the glad shout –

“There she comes.”

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This is one of the last pictures of my beloved Mirjam. It was taken near Cathedral Cove at the end of March by Cynthia Shakti. 28 August

Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, sitting, sky, mountain, outdoor, nature and water

My heart goes out to all the men who have lost the love of their life, who grieve for their closest friend and companion, for their wife and their lover. It is very tough, and probably the deepest stress imaginable. Words can’t describe the agony and pain. 2 September

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I never knew that grieving could hurt so much. I feel a dull pressure in my chest. “Mirjam, my love, I miss you so much!” 10 September

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Mirjam Busch-Jarosewitsch Commemorate and Celebrate her Life 1 October 11-2pm

40 days after her passing, friends will meet at our home, pray, sing and share tributes and memories of this most extraordinary woman, followed by a shared meal.

Waiora Healing Waters 26 September

Thank you so much for sharing this commemoration of my wife, very much loved Mirjam. About 40 were there in person and many more in spirit. Thank you for your comments and for sending your love. Thank you also to the Vitues Group that met at the same time in Diamond Harbour and offered their own ritual. 2 October

In times of strong inner conflict and pain where we feel very irritated and disconnected from others, prayer can be a very powerful way to bring us back into relationship with a safe source to share our pain and questions and ask for guidance and support. (Mirjam Busch-Jarosewitsch, journal entry) 3 October

Image may contain: 2 people, people smiling, people sitting, outdoor and closeup

This is a more recent photo of us both that I found on Mirjam’s iPhone. It was made 3 months before she died, which today has been 12 weeks. “I miss you very much, my love. Your physical presence. And all the simple joys that we could share with each other.”  14 November

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How lucky am I? Living with the soothing sound of the Manaia Stream, surrounded by bush. 24 November

Today, it has been 100 days since my beloved wife, Mirjam, has passed over into the spirit realm. In many traditions, this signifies the end of the mourning period.
The agonizing pain slowly gets less, yet the feelings of loss and grief will most likely stay with me for longer.
I am building a memorial garden in honour of Mirjam.
“There is always a place in my heart for you, Mirjam. May you be well, wherever you are.” 30 November

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Mirjam’s Memorial Garden is taking on shape, with Mirjam’s last artwork in the centre of it. 17 December

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Mirjam’s Memorial Garden 26 December

Feeling appreciation for the place I live. Thank you Mark, for making the stream more accessible: Sitting Rock, River Spa and Nikau Pool.

Thank you, Mirjam for giving me heart-shaped rocks for your memorial garden. 13 January 2018

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Maturing with Purity, Chastity and Virtuous Living

It came as a shock to realize how much my thinking about relationships and in particular sexual relating had been shaped by the culture I grew up in. I am a child of the sixties, the time of my teenage years. The spirit of the Hippy Generation influenced and shaped me.

As I grew up in middle Europe in a time and place where the signs of the destructiveness of the Second World War were still visible, I eagerly accepted the explanation that sexual repression was responsible for creating an authoritarian personality structure1 that had led to people blindly following a leader. I had also been impacted by the prudishness of a Catholic upbringing and fell for the promises of the Sexual Revolution2 in my twenties. Personal freedom and allowing free reign for the natural impulses ranked highly in my perspective of life and the world.

Psychoanalysis and, in particular, the writings of Wilhelm Reich3 captivated my thinking as well as the experience and study of Fritz Perls and early Gestalt Therapy. For me, freeing ourselves from any imposed limitations and in particular sexual repression seemed a way forward to a more just society where suppression of the individual was something of the past.

When I embraced the Baha’i Faith five years ago, it came as a surprise to learn about chastity and purity and the notion of ‘no sex before marriage’. This first seemed to me like a step backward into a repressive way of thinking, reminiscent to my experience with the Catholic Church. Yet, looking more closely at the results of the “sexual revolution”, the moral decline so visible in our society, I could see the discrepancy between the promise of liberation and the actual results of unhappy marriages, increasing divorce rates and personal suffering. The ‘progressive’ stance had not lived up to its promise.

When I learned about “worldview”4, it gave me a new perspective and orientation.

We swim in our worldview in a similar way as a fish swims in water. It surrounds us, it is all that we notice. No, we don’t even notice it. We take it for granted. It is all there is. Our worldview provides us with the lenses through which we perceive the world. It is our reference system. It is what we look for and therefore what we always find. Whatever we look out for, we will see. Our perspective, our worldview determines the world that we live in. Our worldview is formed over our lives and it is the accumulation of our experiences and how we make sense of them. Then it becomes lodged and firmly anchored in our subconscious mind and forms our default system. It becomes the glasses through which we see the world. It ends up in a self perpetuating, self reinforcing loop and does not change easily. It works according to the principle of self-fulfilling prophecy5.

A worldview is like the ground that we stand on, and we can become very attached to it. It gives us safety, security, and provides us with an orientation and familiarity. We would defend it vehemently if ever questioned. Often, we think that this is how the world is and find it difficult to imagine someone else could see it differently. It provides the basis for us sometimes stubbornly insisting on points of view irrespective of rational arguments against them. It all works on an unconscious level, without us even knowing that it does. The only way we ever question or consider changing our worldview is either triggered by situations of crises or through conscious awareness.

As I said earlier, it came as shock for me to realise how a dominant societal worldview had been absorbed without me knowing it or even noticing it.

I found the succession of 3 different worldviews that HB Danesh describes a very useful orientation6. Let me briefly recall them. He compares them to the developmental stages from childhood to adolescence to adulthood. They can be seen to represent the progress of humanity over time.

The stage 1 worldview relates to a child level. It is a power-based worldview. Its strength is a clear structure, in a similar way as a child needs clear instructions. The world can easily be distinguished between right and wrong, good and bad, black and white. Everything falls into a clear category, there is no surprise. A power-based worldview gives clear orientation; you are either for or against. If you are not for me, you must be against me, you are either friend or foe.

This reminds me of some games that I played as a child where there were fights between good and bad, you either were a cop or a criminal, a cowboy or a red Indian, in a similar way as it was depicted in the early movies of a world where there was a clear discrimination between right and wrong, good and evil. The good ones were always good and the bad ones always bad.

It is an authoritarian worldview that is survival based and oppressive. The background of it is that the individual feels threatened and responds to the notion “The world is a dangerous place”. Therefore he needs power to be in control for his security and gratification. It is dictatorial, hierarchical and asks for conformity. This worldview is typical for dictatorships and for groups with a strong leader. It can be abusive, yet provides clear orientation, like it is the case in dogmatic sects with a charismatic leader and willing followers who behave in a childlike manner.

Fear is in the foreground, and the only way to combat fear is to have power. Therefore the acquisition of power is the main pursuit of this worldview. Life is dangerous, and the only way to keep myself safe is to have power. If I cannot have the power myself, I need to align myself with the powerful one(s).

Power can also be replaced with money. The accumulation of money then becomes a goal in itself, irrelevant of what to do with this money, what it is used for. As HB Danesh points out, you can never have enough power or money. Both can become traps and be addictive. They are the driving force for unacknowledged fear. It is the fear of our own impermanence, created by the certainty of our death. Irrespective of how much power or money we have, one day we will die, and all our accumulations will be of no use, whilst the time of death is uncertain.

On a relationship level, this stage corresponds with the ‘traditional’ marriage ideal. Here, marriage serves the wider family, the tribe. Its main purpose is to produce a heir, to continue the blood line. Conformity describes traditional marriage. Matrimonial partners conform to families and society’s needs and preferences. The institution marriage is stable and idealised. There are clearly defined roles. Women bear and raise children and men raise an income. They have clear guidelines of their duties. Traditional marriage is an instrument for upholding the status quo of society. It requires submission and conformity.

This also expresses itself on a sexual level, where there are clear role definitions between men and women. A man is the provider and a woman the nurturer. There are clearly defined role expectations for both. Men are driven by testosterone and the urge to procreate. Women’s role is to go along with it, or as a participant at a workshop once shared her mother’s advice, ‘close your eyes and think of England’.

It is not surprising that on a societal scale, stage 1 moved into the next level, necessarily, as in any society a child grows into a teenager. The limitations of this restrictive way of operating in the world become at some point unbearable. The move to the next level feels like a revolution. We can see signs of this move in many different developing countries. A child, when growing older, at some stage, doesn’t want to be told. They feel stronger than they really are, but also idealistic, as if they had all the answers. It is a time of exploration and discovery.

Level 2 replaces the clear, rigid structure with an urge for freedom. It is a move out of the restrictions of convention; it is the questioning of what had been taken for granted. This process creates chaos, where the old order is being rejected without a new one being yet established.

The second worldview is individualistic. It came into being with Darwin’s theory of the “survival of the fittest”. Here, the world is seen as a jungle, and the purpose of life is competition, to win over others. It is adversarial, relativistic and conflicted.

In our times of individualism, it has become the dominant worldview in Western societies. It is an antagonistic worldview, where everyone fights for their advantage. Competition gains a major role and its existence is taken for granted. Governments in Western democratic countries operate in this way, where parties fight against each other for supremacy. This is the way the business world functions with trust in self-regulating forces like the market economy.

On a personal level, it seems that anything goes. It is a time for exploration, as teenagers do. The pursuit of pleasure and gratification become the major motivators in life.

Both, the first and second worldview are based on power, the first on domination, and the second on power struggle. Both are conflictual and won’t allow for lasting peace. At the first level, the suppressed will rise to eventually overthrow the order and in turn suppress the former suppressors. This is what we have seen in different revolutions. It makes me wonder if the predominant worldviews are the prerequisites for the ongoing strife in the world.

Life on the second level has no calm point. There is continuous strive to win, ongoing competition. Your competitors will take advantage if you are not alert and up with the play that continuously changes.

On a relationship level, the individualistic worldview resembles the “modern marriage”7. Modern marriage came with the rise of individualism. It became based on “love” and developed the focus on getting our personal needs met. Here the marriage has become transitory and no longer a predictable source of comfort and security. Separation has become endemic. Often, the reason given is “we were just too different”, or “we grew apart”. A marriage may break apart when partners fail to satisfy each other. Instead of the marriage as institution, now the partner is initially idealised and seen as the source of passion and for getting the individual needs met.

Partners are put on pedestals and inadvertently, eventually fall down. A common way to deal with the profound disappointment that follows the failed promise of love is to blame the relationship or each other. Rational considerations, like agreements on fundamental issues, to have children or not, spiritual basis, and the like, are generally not being attended to. Differences are viewed as a threat, and partners seem to have only two options. They comply with the stronger person’s wishes, change themselves and try to fit in with their partner. Alternatively they engage in confrontation and power struggles, where they tend to want to change the other.

A picture that had been given8 is that partners walk along opposite shores of a river, that symbolises their particular family tradition, and try to pull each other to their shore. They each want their partner to fit into their way of being in the world that they have inherited from their upbringing. Differences and difficulties that arise are viewed as a threat to the relationship. Strategies are being developed to correct them with a focus on symptom relief. In modern marriage, couples are mostly removed from family and society; they live as a nuclear family, left to their own devices. This is the price they pay for their independence.

A symptom of our times is the romantic notion of a soul mate, to find a person who completes oneself. When one finds the soul mate, “there is an unspoken understanding of one another, that they feel unified and would lie with each other in unity and would know no greater joy than that”9. “In current usage, “soul mate” usually refers to a romantic partner, with the implication of an exclusive lifelong bond.”10 This is in particular relevant in a society where one talks more and more about “life stage partner”11, in recognition of the fact that nowadays most people have at least three significant intimate partners at different stages in their life. No wonder then that we wish to find a soul mate where we are one heart and one soul.

The romantic notion of finding one’s soul mate is a driving force in our times where an “ideal relationship” is portrait in popular movies. There the struggle and problems for people mysteriously ends once two partners have found each other and finally got together. The focus is on finding the ‘right’ partner, not on ‘how to maintain a loving relationship in daily life’.

Entering and leaving a relationship is done lightly, often supported by a couple counsellor who is involved in “separation psychology”12. Here the personal freedom of the individual is over-emphasised. In contrast to the traditional marriage ideal, there now is little consideration for the welfare of the marriage as an entity or for the family, if it compromises individual freedom. Separation psychology “is “all about me” and disregards relationship our effect on each other”13.

Bert Hellinger expresses the fact that a significant situation is created when two people connect in marriage, through the power of a sexual relationship. “Once partners have established a bond by sharing sexual intimacy, separation without hurt and guilt is no longer possible.”14 Blame and anger are often used to cover up the deep grief that is the natural result of a relationship ending. This is stronger still when a child has been the result of this union. When those relationships dissolve, he calls it a “catastrophy”15.

“Partners often behave as if their participation in the relationship were like a club membership that has been freely chosen and can be freely terminated. But the unconscious and relentless conscience guarding love teaches otherwise. If we were free to terminate our partnerships, separation would be less agonizing.”16

The mechanics of a modern marriage are equivalent to a consumer society with a ‘throw-away attitude’. People are considered in terms of their usefulness and wonder if their partner is an asset or a liability. Terms of the business world have entered the sphere of human relationships. People aim to find the best possible match, a partner they feel mirrored in terms of their “worth” or attractiveness, someone they can afford. Personal appearance, including label clothing, even plastic surgery, anything to do with image become most important, which is a typical adolescent stance.

On the level of sexuality, it corresponds with the ideals of the “sexual revolution”. Sexuality no longer serves ‘procreation’ as in the traditional marriage but becomes ‘recreation’, a favourite past time.17

Level 1 and level 2 worldviews are the most common in our society. They are taken for granted and are continuously reinforced. The same messages are repeated over and over again, if you watch a movie, read the paper, a magazine, read a mainstream book, watch TV or engage in a discussion. This is how the world is, it seems.

As Einstein put it so eloquently, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” The social conflicts that are so obvious in our world can be seen as the direct product of the predominant worldviews and can’t be solved with the same way of thinking. We need to consider a new paradigm, a new way of thinking.

Most people clearly would prefer peace over war. Both, the first and second worldviews won’t allow for that. Conflict and strive are a direct result and unavoidable in these ways of thinking and being in the world. What might be the crucial issue here is dealing with difference.

In the power-based worldview, differences are being squashed or suppressed. In the area of the individualistic worldview, they are dealt with in an antagonistic manner, an ‘either-or’ stance. People either learn to suppress their differences, surrendering to the force of peer pressure with the promise to belong, or they fight them out.

Both, if people are conflict avoidant or belligerent, conflicts won’t be resolved. A third way has been described as being “conflict capable”18, as a form to negotiate differences. Addressing the issues that are of concern as well as developing assertiveness is important, so that differences do not need to escalate into strive. The shift needs to be a focus on the common well-being rather than on individual advantage.

We clearly need a new paradigm, a more mature ways of resolving differences. First, we need to reflect on the conception we have of man. Are people in their very nature egotistic, just going after their own needs in disregard to others, or are they naturally socially minded and noble? The fact that people are noble and virtuous becomes obvious in times of crisis, like wars and natural catastrophes. At the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, people naturally cared for each other’s wellbeing, shared freely and displayed virtuous behaviour.

Elisabet Sahtouris, an evolutionary biologist, shows how in the development of life on earth, competition in the adolescent phase, the phase of competition and expansion, on a biological level is being replaced with cooperation.19 She argues that human society need to follow in the same way. It is a natural process like maturing after childhood and adolescence. Our current economic model has no chance of survival, unless it focuses on sustainability and cooperation. The best chances have “living economics that mimic nature”. Sahtouris suggests that we learn from nature.

A third worldview is emerging that is based on Baha’u’llah’s statement: “The earth is but one country and mankind its citizens.”20 Its focus is on peace and on unity. All humanity is one and oneness is expressed in diversity. It focuses on equality, cooperation, justice, and the ability to develop the capacity to deal with seemingly opposite conditions in equality. Instead of competing with others, we complement each other and compete with ourselves for excellence.

Unity appears as uniformity to a person in the power-based worldview and as sameness to someone who is immersed in the individualistic worldview. The unity-based worldview acknowledges that unity is expressed in diversity. In actual fact, diversity is a requirement for true unity. If people simply join in out of peer pressure, or if a strong person pushes through their one particular point of view at the expense of other, people might seem unified, when in actual fact it is mere pseudo unity. Only when differences are embraced, acknowledged and celebrated, like the different flowers in a garden, can unity exist.

This is hard to imagine, because it is not common in our world. A dominant thought suggests that differences are a threat to unity. Mediation is used for a compromise to be reached, if both sides are strong.

“Contemporary thought tells us we should resolve our differences so that we can have unity. The Blessed Perfection tells us we should have unity so that we can make our differences harmonious. Contemporary thought tells us that unity is a lofty goal, an ideal if unattainable objective. The Covenant asserts that unity is the starting place, the necessary bedrock. This is a reversal of contemporary thought and perhaps one of the most far-reaching single innovations of this age.”21

When you examine life, you will notice that everything exists because of unity. In the case of conception, ovum and sperm come together to form a new entity. As long as an organism stays alive, this cohesion that is formed exists. Life can be seen as a condition that arises when consciousness and matter come together in a condition of unity. When death occurs, they separate, and matter returns to its original state, dust, where the force that binds atoms and molecules disappears.

You can therefore equate life with unity.22 Both depend on the same principle of integration, whilst death is represented by disintegration.

This emerging worldview is also a necessity in the bigger scale of international relationships, as can be seen with regard to environmental issues and climate change. Neighbouring countries affect each other’s environment, the quality of the air, of the water. Consideration of each other becomes a necessity. In light of a common plight facing the forces of nature, it seems immature to only focus on the environment in a limited space, oblivious of the interconnectedness. The whole world and its interrelating aspects need to be taken into account.

On a smaller scale level, a dominant purpose of life becomes to be a unifier, a peace maker. Consultation is the method that has been developed to support this process, whose purpose is to “adopt and enforce that which is conducive to the security, prosperity, wealth and tranquillity of the people“23.

A spiritual approach – the third way – not only combines the best aspects of level 1 and 2 worldview, structure and freedom, but also adds a new dimension, a spiritual dimension. Then the objective of life is growth and transformation, to a complete, mature human being. Love is the force of unity.

We no longer try to avoid any difficulties that arise out of differences, but see the opportunities that lie within them, as we develop ourselves. “Character cannot be developed in ease and quiet. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, vision cleared, ambition inspired, and success achieved.”24

The power-based worldview displays the rigidity of close-mindedness, and there is a fear of emotions apart from anger. The individualistic worldview, on the other hand provides total freedom of expression. There is nothing and no one to obey. A unity-based worldview, combines discipline and freedom, order and liberty. It supports a spiritual socialisation and the acquisition of virtues, as their guideline. The main interest now becomes finding the truth which can be easier approximated by considering all different positions. Just to be right becomes less dominant as we mature.

In our age of individualism, humanity is at the stage of adolescents. Looking at the three stages in terms of development, we move from “primal union” to “differentiation – the battle of wills” to “enlightened union”25.

Applied to relationships, this third level worldview corresponds with “Conscious Marriage”. Conscious marriage embraces differentiation of both partners. It is transformative in that partners develop personal intimacy by exploring and cultivating their true selves in and through connection with someone they love. Marriage is seen as a spiritual path. Problems are converted into stepping stones; conflicts are seen as opportunities to become aware of our own vulnerabilities and habitual defensive patterns and we realise that the person we are supposed to be with is the exact person we are with. “Love asks us to grow and conflicts show us the direction in which we need to go.”26 Rather than being seen in competition, the complimentary aspect of differences is emphasised and valued. We need contact with difference in others to find out who we are and to extend ourselves.

The “No” is very crucial in a loving relationship. For Schellenbaum27, it is also a “yes” for the relationship as a whole. This is the space where two people meet. If I cannot say openly “no” to my partner, at times when it is necessary, it eventually comes across as a “hidden no”, in self-abandonment, denials or physical symptoms. This then can threaten a marriage more than a direct ‘no’ would.

David Schnarch emphasises the importance of “differentiation” for a successful relationship. “Differentiation is the ability to stand on your own two feet, physically and emotionally, when you are close to others.”28 Conventional marital therapy suggests that the lack of similarity is a problem in relationships and focuses on improving communication to bridge this. Schnarch asserts that it is rather the lack of differentiation that is responsible for relationships failing.

When people are differentiated rather than fused, they can validate and soothe themselves irrespective of the fact that their partner may not do that. It leads to more independence, to a growing up into a mature person. Fritz Perls identifies maturation as the goal of personal growth and defines maturity as “the transition from environmental support to selfsupport29. A mature person therefore embraces differentiation and is conscious of the fact, that we are not victims of circumstances; we are co-creators of our world. They realise that what impacts on us less are outside events but rather how we make sense of them.

Dependence is the condition of the child, as it is with the power-based worldview. This is followed by pursuing independence at the adolescent level. An adult is conscious of their own autonomy and self responsibility and at the same time the fact that humans are social beings and therefore also depending on one another. The third stage is interdependence, in recognition that we are “mutually reliant on each other”30. Interdependence does not exclude personal freedom, yet it honours the fact that “in an interdependent relationship, participants may be emotionally, economically, ecologically and/or morally reliant on and responsible to each other”31. Marriage becomes an ongoing living process. It is the process to learn “to be true to myself and open for the other”32. Dependence of traditional marriage and independence of modern marriage is replaced by interdependence. Couples are integrated into family, community and the larger world while they are free to make their own choices. Marriage becomes an instrument for evolution of consciousness, and is seen as a structure to contain and protect the process of self-realization. It includes a spiritual dimension, where partners take a supportive interest in each other’s spiritual growth. The goal of such a marriage is mutuality where “differences add”33.

Maybe, in the end, it is not about becoming “one” in finding the soul mate but about developing mature love, “the union under the condition of preserving one’s integrity, one’s individuality”. “In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”34 It is not about independence as the adolescent stage of human development suggests, but about interdependence, where both partners can be whole in themselves and add to each other’s life through their difference. It is the move from “what can I get” to “what can I give”35.

When we now look at sexual relations, it seems that a third level would embrace sexuality as a spiritual expression. Here, spiritual guidelines, like living by the virtues, go hand in hand with the expression of our most basic physiological drives.

Welwood inadvertently describes the three worldviews when he states: “From a prudish perspective, the sole legitimate function of sex is procreation, and the desires of the flesh are morally tainted. From the hedonistic perspective, sex is a form of recreation, and the body no more than a plaything. Since both these views fail to recognize the body as a sacred vessel, they prevent us from appreciating sex as a sacred activity.”36

The “prudish perspective” corresponds with the power based worldview and the “hedonistic perspective” with the individualistic worldview. Overcoming the division between sex and sacredness is the task for the new emerging worldview. It is in a similar way unifying as it is the case with “the Unity of Religion and Science”37.

The emergence of Sigmund Freud und psychoanalysis that paid much attention to the topic of sexuality, paved the ground for the principle of “power” to be replaced with “pleasure” as the dominant motivator. Where there was a certain form of rigidity, now it moved into promiscuity, extreme permissiveness, and disregard for laws, towards self-centred and selfish attitudes. Truth became relative, according to the principle “anything goes”, and people indulgent.

In the “sexual liberation”, it was even believed that it would result in health problems when a young person would suppress their sexual excitement and not relieve their tension with an orgasm.38 To achieve orgasm became all important, and if it didn’t happen, it caused major relationship problems. Welwood called it the “tyranny of the orgasm”39.

Orgasm became the main focus. Quantitative aspects, like frequency of sexual encounters, scoring, goal orientation became all important and overshadowed the quality of the relating. A curve was drawn that resembled a sine wave and assumed as a given, that orgasm, at the top, was believed to be the natural goal and the only relief of tension. This generalised “procreation driven sex”40 as the norm and created much suffering. As Marnia Robinson elaborates, this is the way we have been programmed by our genes that seek the most effective way of being passed on. She contrasts this with “bonding-based sexual expression” that has been called “Karezza”41.

“He (Shoghi Effendi) feels that the youth, in particular, must constantly and determinedly strive to exemplify a Bahá’í life. In the world around us we see moral decay, promiscuity, indecency, vulgarity, bad manners – the Bahá’í young people must be the opposite of these things, and, by their chastity, their uprightness, their decency, their consideration and good manners, attract others, old and young, to the Faith. The world is tired of words; it wants example, and it is up to the Bahá’í youth to furnish it.”42

Being a product of the Sixties and the “Hippy movement”, initially I felt that a focus on chastity and purity as well as to wait with sex until married was a step back into suppression, as it had been propagated by the Christian churches. Now, I realised that my worldview had been influenced by the time I grew up in and that in actual fact the requirements of Baha’i marriage are a step forward. How is see it now is that no structure, chaos and disorientation are being replaced by chosen limitations. And what I found fascinating is that after reading about Karezza, to see that recent findings in neuroscience underpin a more mature way of dealing with sexuality.

A third form of sexuality, same as a unity-based worldview, includes a spiritual dimension. This aspect has been described as “Karezza” by Alice B. Stockham already over 100 years ago, as the “perfect union of two souls in marriage”43. It “is the highest expression of mutual affection, and gives to those practicing it revelations of strength and power. It must be experienced on a higher plane than the merely physical, and may always be made a means of spiritual unfoldment”44. Rather than seeking “fleeting passional gratification”, the aim is “union and soul development”.

“Karezza gives to the sexual relation an office entirely distinct from the propagative act, a high office in individual development and formation of character. It is both a union on the affectional plane and a preparation for best possible conditions for procreation. Karezza should always be the outcome, the emblem of the deeper emotions; both husband and wife should hope and expect that the union will contribute to their spiritual growth and development. The marriage bond has given the sex functions a special consecration. In each union under spiritual law this consecration is renewed. There is no defilement or debasement in the natural and controlled expression of sexual love. Karezza does not lead to asceticism or repression, but rather to appropriation and expression.”45

In Karezza that comes from Italian and means “caress”, orgasm no longer is the goal, unless procreation is sought. New insights of neuroscience can now explain why this form of spiritual sexuality is more conducive to happy long-term relationships.

It has to do with hormones that are released in the mammalian (limbic) brain. Dopamine is the pleasure seeking hormone. It is connected to the “rewards circuitry” and “serves your genes before it serves you”46. Dopamine governs also addiction. We fluctuate between excess and deficient levels of dopamine. “Dopamine is released in response to expectations – rather than actual levels of pleasure”47. It is the pleasure seeking hormone that runs in our subconscious mind and is responsible for people having affairs, indulge in pornography and excessive sexual behaviour, as well as in gambling and substance addictions.

“If you aren’t using your rational brain to help steer, this primitive mechanism can set you on a meaningless quest after the other in search of a brief sense of eager anticipation – and no lasting fulfilment. This is why chasing the dopamine surges related to junk food or affectionless sexual stimulation is more likely to lead to recurring dissatisfaction than happiness.”48

Karezza helps to manage dopamine at a healthy level. It also produces Oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, that supports bonding behaviour, not only between parent and child, but also between adults that engage in bonding behaviours, like cuddling, kissing, caressing, gazing into each other’s eyes and any other loving activities.

In Karezza, the focus is on loving connection, not only physical; it can also be a mental connection. What is being controlled is the unconscious, biologically instilled, urge to strive for orgasm, unless clearly planned in a harmonious marital union. We gain control over our instinctive desires that we have in common with animals. What has been found is that after orgasm, men tend to lose interest in their partner and look out for other possibilities to spread their genes, while women become irritable and their mood fluctuates. This lasts for about 2 weeks. Partners commonly think that having good sex would fix the problem, only to start another cycle after pursuing orgasm. This can lead to marital crisis and often ends up in separation.

The selfishly motivated pursuit for personal gratification that is supported by our biological programming undermines marital relationships.

“True marriage is based upon the recognition of the individuality of both husband and wife which brings voluntary, not compelled, co-operation in all the departments of family life. Only when souls, flowing together, acting as one, distinct in individuality, but united in their action are thus mated, are the psychological laws met and satisfied.” Marriage is then lifted “to a plane of spiritual companionship far exceeding any pleasure known to the mere physical”49.

Michaela Gloeckler50 also stressed that ongoing long-term happy relationships are best served if both partners take an interest in each other’s spiritual growth. This growth can be achieved “through the habit of self-control and mastery and through the desire of each for the best good of the other”51. It corresponds with the move from second level worldview to the third, from one that is individualistic focused to one that wants to be of service.

The concept of Karezza, I belief, offers valuable possibilities to achieve this and to support the maturing process on an individual level.

Maturing is a process of organic growth. We mature physically, as we reach an age of possible reproduction. Maturing emotionally, mentally and spiritually might take longer. We are a work in progress, as are the institutions of the Baha’i Faith.

“Necessarily there will be some who are defective amongst men, but it is our duty to enable them by kind methods of guidance and teaching to become perfected. Some will be found who are morally sick; they should be treated in order that they may be healed. Others are immature and like children; they must be trained and educated so that they may become wise and mature. Those who are asleep must be awakened; the indifferent must become mindful and attentive. But all this must be accomplished in the spirit of kindness and love and not by strife, antagonism nor in a spirit of hostility and hatred, for this is contrary to the good pleasure of God. That which is acceptable in the sight of God is love. Love is, in reality, the first effulgence of Divinity and the greatest splendour of God.”52

1Authoritarian personality is a state of mind or attitude characterised by belief in absolute obedience or submission to one’s own authority, as well as the administration of that belief through the oppression of one’s subordinates. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Authoritarian_personality)

2 “The sexual revolution, also known as a time of sexual liberation, was a social movement that challenged traditional codes of behavior related to sexuality and interpersonal relationships throughout the Western world from the 1960s to the 1980s. Sexual liberation included increased acceptance of sex outside of traditional heterosexual, monogamous relationships (primarily marriage). Contraception and the pill, public nudity, the normalization of premarital sex, homosexuality and alternative forms of sexuality, and the legalization of abortion all followed.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_revolution)

3 He wrote a book titled “The Sexual Revolution”, first published 1945.

“Wilhelm Reich, the father of the sexual revolution, started out as a star pupil of Sigmund Freud, the father of modern psychology. Reich was admitted to the Vienna Psychoanalytic Association in 1920, while he was still a graduate student, and already a radical idea was percolating in his head: that sexuality, fundamental to our being, and yet a source of shame for centuries, had the power to heal much of what ailed us, if only we would let it.

Breaking with religious teachings that the sole function of sex ought to be procreation and that any other erotic pursuit was sinful, Reich offered a new and defiantly humanist perspective, asserting that sexual pleasure was beneficial—indeed, necessary—to human flourishing, and that, when it came to orgasms, the more the merrier. As Christopher Turner writes in his new book, “Adventures in the Orgasmatron: How the Sexual Revolution Came to America” (Farrar, Straus & Giroux; $35), Reich offered the “tantalizing suggestion that sexual emancipation would lead to positive social change.” Good sex was the path to the good society.” (Ariel Levy, Novelty Acts, in The New Yorker, 19 September 2011, http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2011/09/19/novelty-acts)

4A comprehensive world view (or worldview) is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_view)

5A selffulfilling prophecy is a prediction that directly or indirectly causes itself to become true, by the very terms of the prophecy itself, due to positive feedback between belief and behavior. (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selffulfilling_prophecy)

6Hossain B. Danesh, Transforming our habits of thoughts, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70sfqSOHaKY

7John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991

8By Bert Hellinger

9“The Internet Classics Archive& ”The Symposium” by Plato”. Classics.mit.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-22. in: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soulmate#cite_note-3

10“Soul mate – Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Dictionary”. Merriam-webster.com. 2012-08-31. Retrieved 2013-08-24 , Ibid.

11In German “Lebensabschnittpartner”

12Hugh Prater, “It is central to separation psychology, which aims to define, distinguish, and “empower” each separated ego.” http://www.livinglifefully.com/flo/flobelettinggoofrigidresponses.htm

13Ibid.

14Bert Hellinger, Love’s hidden symmetry, 1998, p.32

15In Gunthard Weber (Hrsg.), Zweierlei Glueck, p.142

16Bert Hellinger, p.79

17John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991, p.174

18Friedrich Glasl, Confronting Conflict, 1999

19Elisabet Sahtouris, evolution biologist in “Cooperation is superior to competition” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWxyTJ-Y1Mw

20Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 250

21 Kolstoe, John, Consultation, p. 11f

22See Tom Price, in his talks on the “Five Year Plan” 2013

23Baha’u’llah, Tablets of Baha’u’llah, p. 92

24Helen Keller

25HB Danesh

26John Welwood, Journey of the Heart, The Path of Conscious Love, Harper Perennial, 1991

27Peter Schellenbaum, Das Nein in der Liebe, 1986 (not yet translated into English)

28David Schnarch, Passionate Marriage, 1997

29Fritz Perls, 1965

30http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/interdependence

31http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interdependence

32Mirjam Busch & Rudolf Jarosewitsch

33Shem, Samuel & Surrey, Janet (1998); We have to talk, Healing dialogues between men and women; Sydney, AUS: Hodder

34Erich Fromm, The Art of Loving, Harper Collins, 1956, p.19

35John Welwood

36John Welwood, Journey of the Heart – The Path of Conscious Love; New York: Harper Collins, 1990, p.174

37The fourth principle of Bahá’u’lláh, Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 130

38Wilhelm Reich, Sexual Revolution, p.116, German edition

39John Welwood, p.175

40Marnia Robinson

41By Alice B. Stockham, M.D., Karezza, Ethics of Marriage, 1903

42Compilations, The Compilation of Compilations vol II, p. 16

43Stockham

44Ibid., p.5

45Ibid.

46Marnia Robinson, Cupid’s Poisoned Arrow, North Atlantic Books, 2009, p.92; See also: http://www.reuniting.info/

47Ibid., p.94

48Ibid., p.94f

49Stockham, p.13

50Head of the Medical Section of the Anthroposophic Society, during a conference in Christchurch, 2003

51Stockham, p.17

52Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 397

Uncategorized

Beliefs

Your beliefs become your thoughts

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your actions

Your actions become your habits

Your habits become your character

Your character becomes your destiny.

Mohandas Ghandi

Beliefs

We live our lives based on what we believe about our world, ourselves, our capabilities and our limits.

Where do our beliefs come from?

They mostly originate with what science, religion, culture and family tell us. Some of these beliefs are conscious but most of them live in our subconscious (or unconscious) out of our awareness.

From birth until age 6 to 7 we have little conscious thoughts. We live in a dream-like world, simply soaking up everything around us, which in turn shapes the way we think. We are immersed in the experience of others, simply “downloading”, recording and storing without any judgement and no filter to tell us what is appropriate and what not. The beliefs of others become the foundation of what we hold true about the world and ourselves.

The beliefs of others become programmed into our subconscious. The way others respond to us becomes the blueprint for the way we deal with relationships and life.

Because the blueprints are unconscious we may not be able to see them, when we act them out. They are often not related to what we would like to think what we believe.

Those blueprints are being mirrored back to us in the form of our most intimate close relationships, friendships, careers – and even the condition of our health. Some of the beliefs that were so deeply instilled within us have led to positive and healing ways to deal with life’s tests and others have done just the opposite.

A lot of suffering, conflict and struggle in our lives is related to unconscious negative beliefs. Some of our core beliefs are assumptions or conclusion that we construct, based on our ealiest and most potent fears and hurts.

Example: Imagine you are a child trying to get your mother’s or father’s attention to look at a drawing you made. Sometimes she/he responds, yet other times she/he explodes in anger at being disturbed and threatens to spank you. Your brain and heart register her/his anger and rejection and your hurt and fear.

Over time these encoded memories constellate into negative beliefs about yourself and what you can expect from others. “I am too needy”, “People won’t love me”, “If I bother someone I’ll get punished”, or “Nobody really wants to spend time with me”.

These beliefs are stored in the subconscious and come only to light as a reaction.

Let’s say you are now an adult. Your wife/husband has been preoccupied and is not responding to your question. This can set off the old feeling of not mattering and triggers a reflex to become apologetic, withdrawn or aggressive.

Mirjam Busch-Jarosewitsch

Uncategorized

Healthy Marriage

Healthy Marriage

 

“In the world of existence there is indeed no greater power than the power of love.”

(Abdu’l-Baha, Paris Talks, p. 179)

Over the years that we have been working and living together, we have come to realise through intense study, trial and error, and by reflecting on our hardships and crises together what a healthy marital relationship is. It gives both partners security, friendship, companionship, support, comfort and deep love.

In order to experience these, we need to learn the art of loving, sharing, communicating, cooperating, adjusting and recovering. We need to develop patience and forbearance in response to each other’s imperfections, difficult times, crises and loss, which all relationships have to face.

There are some important points to remember and to practice:

* Get to know each other well before you commit to a relationship, to find out whether you are suited to each other. Talk about your marriage and child rearing ideas and ideals, your moral and spiritual worldviews, why you want and what you want in a committed relationship. Talk about your likes and dislikes. Notice each other’s habits, manner of doing things and each other’s temperamental and cultural differences. Pay attention to each other’s way of relating to others. Meet each other’s parents and siblings to get to know the family cultures you are both raised in.

* A long term relationship is a commitment, this means loyalty and faithfulness to each other at all times. We break the bond of trust and damage our ability to develop trustworthiness with each other when we are unfaithful. Unfaithfulness leads often to separation. Separation is tragic and painful for all involved, especially children.

* Take a genuine interest in each other, with the intention to understand each other. Make time to communicate daily. Share honestly what is on your mind and in your heart. Include your deepest thoughts and most vulnerable feelings. When differences arise – as they always do – tell each other how you feel. Look at each other, be willing to listen carefully and patiently, and communicate with tenderness.

* It is helpful to expect difficulties and view them as opportunities for growth rather than as a threat to the relationship. That helps us to face difficulties in a creative and cooperative manner. We work on our problems together.

* Expect to discover each other’s imperfections. After the “romance stage”, where we tend to idealise each other, we will begin to notice what we don’t like about each other and can be disappointed. The danger is that we long to go back to the bliss of the “romance stage” and end the relationship. At this point, our task is to learn to be patient and compassionate with ourselves and each other. A main purpose of intimate relationships is to learn and grow.

* Remain courteous towards each other. We can easily lose courtesy in the day-to-day living, yet saying “I am sorry”, “I made a mistake”, “thank you”, “please”, and “excuse me” increase mutual respect.

* When we have hurt each other, we need to strive to forgive each other, as anger, hostility and resentment undermine our love. Saying “I was wrong”, “please accept my apology”, does a lot to repair a tear in the fabric of the relationship.

* We are all imperfect and searching for perfection in each other can become a problem. Couples often struggle to forgive each other for past wrong-doings. It might help to consider Lesley Hazelton’s quote: “Forgiveness is abandoning all hope of a perfect past.”

* Avoid being negative. Nagging, complaining, critizising, demanding and giving orders create disharmony, tension and grief. Make positive requests, “would you be willing to …”, and learn to consult with each other, “do you think it is a good idea?”

* We build each other’s self-esteem and confidence when we encourage and assist each other. Never tear each other down. We are all imperfect and need each other’s support to develop our good qualities.

* Express appreciation to increase the positive energy. Remember, love thrives on appreciation.

* Long-term relationships require us to sacrifice some of our independence to establish love and unity. Often that means letting go of being right at all cost, selfish and egotistical. Make space for your partner’s opinion, share the responsibilities fairly, be of service to each other.

* Plan exclusive “together times” of rest, relaxation and fun. Plan at least some kind of recreation each week: walk together, read, sing, cook, garden, swim, talk, meditate, create, do service together. Celebrate your love to break routine and create meaning, e.g. anniversaries.

* Make sure you don’t take each other for granted. Take good care of yourself and your physical appearance. We are all sensual beings. Initiate surprises, learn each other’s love languages. (See: https://waiorahealingwaters.com/2012/12/03/some-thoughts-on-love-languages/)

* Talk about your sexual relationship openly. Find out and communicate about what each other likes. Become aware of and comfortable with your bodies. Remember that being sexual is primarily about giving and receiving.

* View each other as equal. Cooperate by considering the other’s viewpoint, however strong you may feel about your own. Become aware of your own assumptions and prejudices of each other. It’s easy to put each other in a box. Make decisions together that feel just and fair for all concerned.

* Strong emotional reactions of fear, anger, anxiety and sadness are indicators of the state of your love in your relationship. When they dominate the relationship, ask yourselves: how can I bring more love into the relationship?

* Practice self-discipline. Learn to be in control of your emotions and desires. If your emotions and desires control you, you lose your freedom. Make sure you are in charge of them.

* Learn to see yourself more objectively through the eyes of others. They can often see your qualities when you don’t. A prayer to help with this: “Dear God. Show me the truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.” (Robert Holden)

* Remember that you have been created with love by God, and will always be loved by him.

* Choose a spiritual path that enriches and deepens your love and a strong moral, mutually agreed upon, framework to guide your actions through turbulent times.

* Express affection and care for each other on a daily basis, to help establish a home of love, warmth and hospitality.

 

Mirjam Busch-Jarosewitsch

Uncategorized

Signs of Love

Conscious Relationships and signs of love

 

Moral and spiritual transformation through conscious awareness

 

“The most important thing is to polish the mirrors of hearts in order that they may become illumined and receptive of the divine light.” (Abdu’l-Baha)

 

At the root of problems in ourselves and with each other are thoughts (beliefs and motives) and emotions that live in our bodies (in particular in our hearts) without our knowing. They run our lives and create conflict and suffering for ourselves and others, as they make it difficult for us to give and receive love.

 

How can we be more conscious of the dynamics that operate in our significant relationships? What can we learn from those? What skills can we develop?

 

We have the tendency to repeat familiar relationship patterns over and over again. Our unconscious mind has been influenced through past experiences and sets the blueprint for the present and the future. It is as if we had been programmed a certain way in the first 6 years of our life, when we were most receptive. Experiential learning as we grow up, provides the parameters for the way we make sense of the world.

 

What we expect, we draw to us. Usually, we expect the familiar, which we then experience over and over again. It becomes a self-reinforcing pattern, a self-fulfilling prophecy, a closed loop. And since it is buried in our unconscious or subconscious mind, we can easily feel victims to whatever we experience.

 

The only way out of this predicament is to be conscious of our mind process and to bring the light of awareness to the darkness of habitual familiarity. In this darkness, I feel to be the victim of a situation and fail to see that I have a part to play in what happens to me. With the power of my expectations I draw certain experiences to me. These expectations may be conscious, yet more often they reside – unknown to us – in our subconscious or unconscious mind. According to new findings in neuroscience, it is estimated that approximately 5 % of our brain activities are conscious, the rest, this is 95%, is not directly available to us.

 

In our process of experiential learning we draw conclusions that form core beliefs. We learn that the flame of a candle is hot and can burn us, so that we don’t have to test it over and over again. This becomes part of our knowledge, part of our world-view. We make assumptions based on experience that give us orientation and a sense of knowing.

 

In relationships, we learn from our encounters with significant people, like parents, siblings and teachers. These give us a sense of the world, whether it be a safe or dangerous place, whether we can generally trust people or need to be cautious and alert, sceptical and worried. We gain a sense of what it is to be male or female from our first encounters.

 

Often, we waste our time by focusing on what should be. However, the only chance to change, to further ourselves, is when we realise what is, and what is our part in this. To embrace our programming, our “shortcomings” with honesty and humility provides the opportunity to move on.

 

Another trap is to believe that when we know something intellectually, we can change our behaviour arrordingly. Just because something makes sense to us theoretically doesn’t mean that we can put it into practice. It is the practical application of knowledge that helps us to contribute to the betterment of society. Here, my own personal development and the furthering of society go hand in hand.

 

The area of relationship is a very practical area where I can make concrete practical changes that impact on others. Or as Mahatma Ghandi says, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”

 

Love is central in human relationships. Ghandi says, “Where there is love there is life.” Tom Price describers love as a universal life principle. It is represented by coherence, attraction, and unity in all forms of existence. This can be seen as the life principle per se. As soon as a living creature, be it human, animal or plant, dies, it begins to disintegrate. As long as there is live, there is attraction between the atoms and molecules. The life force keeps everything together.

 

What is it that stops me on a practical level to be alive to the degree that I give and receive love easily?

 

If I have been lucky enough to grow up with an abundance of love around me, it will probably be easier. When I was programmed in my early childhood differently, it will be harder. It is my frame of reference that determines how I behave in the world.

 

Now I want to refer to the 12 signs of love, as described by Tom Price, to show how this principle applies and to ponder how, through conscious action, we can become more the authors of our lives rather than remain victims to situations that seem out of our control. To be consciously aware of my inner process gives me the opportunity to invite and eventually co-create new experiences.

 

The twelve signs of love are very practical and show us in more detail and on a practical level the ingredients of love.

 

I have grouped them in 3 clusters of aspects that go together.

 

 

1) Praise, Gratitude, Acceptance, Overlooking other’s fault, Seeing good in other people

 

Is praise in your life? Does praise come easily for you? Are you familiar with giving and receiving praise? Is praise part of your blueprint? Did you grow up in an environment where praise was given?

 

I grew up with criticism and complaints. The focus was very much on what was done wrong. Even at school, a red pen was used to mark any mistake. Mistakes were given attention, and they were highlighted. No wonder, criticism is very present in my psyche. So present that I sometimes hear it or feel criticised even when this is not the case. On the other hand, I might not notice when I am praised, I might feel uncomfortable with compliments or I tend to diminish any praise. Or I might be suspicious: “what do they want from me?”

 

Being critical with others goes hand in hand with being critical with myself. The inner critic can be very limiting and tends to deaden life force, as I hesitate in following my impulses.

 

How now can I move out of this world of criticism? How can I develop space for praise?

 

A good way to start is to learn to praise others. Where, in the past, I would be critical with what I don’t like, I learn to shift my focus on what I do like, and I make it a habit to note it and to verbalise my appreciation. This is a shift of perspective, to move from noticing the negative to paying attention to the positive, from the dislike to the like.

 

This sounds easy enough to do. However, do you catch yourself when you fall into negativity? Can a close friend or your spouse help you to notice? Can you be generous with compliments, with giving positive feedback?

 

First, it might feel strange and unfamiliar. Yet, with time, it can become a new way of being. Changing a deeply seated pattern requires practice. And also, it requires patience, mercy and compassion with oneself.

 

The most difficult challenge then is to not exclude myself and even embrace and praise my inner critic. Whatever we learn in life as a coping strategy in difficult situations initially serves us. For example, I learned to be self critical as a protection. If someone was to criticise me, I had already been there and done it myself. This way it hurt less.

 

Love is a unifying force. It doesn’t work if I reject any aspects of life. The goal is integration. It cannot be about fighting or obliterating criticism, complains and attacks, rather see them as signposts. Marshall Rosenberg (Non-violent Communication) describes them as “tragic expressions of difficult feelings or unmet needs”. They are tragic because they don’t help us express our feelings or meet our needs. Feelings and needs are the driving force in life. Whenever I experience criticism or feel critical myself, a good strategy would be to ask “what do I feel?” and “what do I need right now?”

 

The more I get into the habit of giving praise, recognizing praiseworthy actions and to express my appreciation, the more I include it into my relationship pattern, the more I will also receive it and recognize it as a sign of love.

 

Gratitude is closely related to praise. It is “a constant attitude of thankfulness and appreciation for life as it unfolds” (Virtue Reflection Cards). “We contemplate the richness of our life. We feast on beauty. We notice small graces and are thankful for daily gifts. In life’s trials, we seek to understand, to accept, and to learn. … Gratitude is a continual celebration of life.” (ibid.)

 

Gratitude is also connected with abundance. According to the “law of attraction”, as I am grateful, I attract more abundance in my life.

 

The opposite is thanklessness, condemnation and being unappreciative. Again it is a focus on what we don’t want, on the negative. It is like a spoilt child who is never happy with what is being given, always wanting something different or more. We expect things to go our way and when they don’t we are incensed at any mishap, we throw a tantrum. Any kind of problems would floor us. This is an attitude of discontent.

 

Realistically, we can expect things to go wrong at times. Therefore we can be grateful and thankful for all the good in life. It is helpful not to take anything for granted, but to appreciate all the gifts and blessings that we receive.

 

Unfortunately, often we can take things for granted and only learn to appreciate them when they are taken from us. When I was in hospital, I remember looking out of the window, and wishing that I could get up, walk over the lawn, be in nature. Something that I mostly took for granted, all the sudden was valuable when I was not able to do it. Sometimes, we value and miss people when they are gone or have died. We can easily take life’s blessings and each other for granted.

 

Is there anyone in your life to whom you haven’t expressed your appreciation yet?

 

After overcoming hardships, people might find it easier to be grateful, like the early settlers in America who invented the festival of Thanksgiving. Is it possible to cultivate gratitude without needing to experience hardships? Does the development of gratitude give meaning to hardships?

 

Gratitude is the attitude to appreciate life in all its abundance. In prayers, we can thank God for all the blessings that we receive. With gratitude, we delight in all the splendours of life rather than let ourselves be submersed in a bog of misery.

 

Is gratitude part of your relationship blueprint? Do you regularly express your gratitude? Are you thankful for who you are and for what you have in your life?

 

In every given situation, I have the choice to wish for something different or to be grateful for the given. Byron Katie called her book “Loving what is”. This takes us to the next sign of love: Acceptance.

 

Acceptance is the willingness to be with what is. “Acceptance is embracing life on its own terms.” (Virtue Reflection Cards).

 

Even though it is a fruitless effort to fight ‘what is’, it still is a common experience. Byron Katie states: “When I argue with reality, I lose—but only 100% of the time.” In actual fact, we really have no choice but to accept and surrender to the given. Acceptance is not resignation, it also includes my response to a given situation. It is an act of embracing what I am confronted with.

 

“Life is not the way it’s supposed to be, it’s the way it is. The way you cope with it is what makes the difference.” (Virginia Satir)

 

In relationships, acceptance is expressed as tolerance. To tolerate the difference of another is a growthful exercise. When it comes to people, there will always be difference. No two people are alike. The task of our time, “unity in diversity” asks of us to even welcome difference. It is the other side of unity. We could not have unity if there was no diverseness. All we would have is sameness. In unity the diverse parts come together. This reminds me of the definition of mutuality as “mutuality is when differences add.” (Shem and Surrey). Both voices are heard and responded to.

 

“Please God, that we avoid the land of denial, and advance into the ocean of acceptance, so that we may perceive, with an eye purged from all conflicting elements, the worlds of unity and diversity, of variation and oneness, of limitation and detachment, and wing our flight unto the highest and innermost sanctuary of the inner meaning of the Word of God.” [1 The Báb.] (Baha’u’llah, The Kitab-i-Iqan, p. 160)

 

With acceptance and tolerance, we honour the fact that we have different reference systems, based on our different childhood experiences. And also we honour the validity of both. Rather than looking at the world only through my eyes, I understand that someone else has a different perspective. Individuals in a group of people, sitting together in a room, would all describe the same room differently. There is only one truth, yet no one has the whole picture. We all have part of it. Acceptance and tolerance helps us to allow for this difference, to make space for it. It protects us from prejudice.

 

We judge all the time, whether in the negative or the positive. It is a way of orienting us in the world. Do I like it or don’t I like it? On numerous occasions during the day, when we need to make a decision, we judge. Often we judge others. “Judgment can become a process of separation or a process of inclusion and intimacy. … Three words are the difference between separation and oneness. You can’t stop the mind from judging. Add three words and that judgement becomes a different world.” (Arjuna Ardagh, in Reisefuehrer ins Erwachen, 42”) What are these three words?

“Just like me.”

 

If you think of someone being impatient, say: “he is impatient, just like me.” If you consider someone beautiful, it’s the same, say: “she is beautiful, just like me.”

 

I can only recognize in others aspects that are potentially part of me, that are in my frame of reference. “Just like me” moves me out of separateness, into connecting and linking with the other. Just try it out!

 

Acceptance makes it possible to also let go. Fighting keeps me stuck, unable to move on. This becomes possible, once I accept.

 

How did you grow up? Was diversity tolerated or even encouraged in your family? Is it easy for you to tolerate difference? Is it possible for you to hold on to yourself in face of difference or do you easily succumb to peer pressure? Can you accept and tolerate difference in others?

 

Overlook other’s faults

 

It is important to realise that everybody has faults. No one is without limitations or errors. Ultimately, faults don’t even exist. They are like the darkness with the light. Darkness itself is no entity, it is the mere absence of light. We cannot turn off darkness in a dark room, we simply turn on the light. Even a single candle in a dark room makes a difference.

 

“On no subject are the Bahá’í teachings more emphatic than on the necessity to abstain from fault-finding and backbiting while being ever eager to discover and root out our own faults and overcome our own failings.” (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 88)

 

“If any differences arise amongst you, behold Me standing before your face, and overlook the faults of one another for My name’s sake and as a token of your love for My manifest and resplendent Cause.” (Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p. 315)

 

A focus on someone’s fault reinforces their defect, their blemish, their shortcoming. In fact, we are all complete, perfect in our own way, as we contain the capacity to develop the divine qualities, the virtues. This connects us to the next sign:

 

See good in all people

 

As I see the good, I see ‘God’ in my fellow beings. My focus on their good qualities, their virtues, reinforces these. The more we look for good qualities, the more we find them. We can see people as a mine. Somewhere deep inside is the gold. We look for that and discard the rest. In the same way we look at the night sky and notice the stars, ignoring the blackness between.

 

Tom Price stresses that God goes past everyday. When we look for the good in people we find it. Everyone can be considered an unopened letter from God. Everybody has good qualities. Sometimes they had not been recognized or sufficiently reinforced in the past. As I focus on them, I reinforce them and help them to manifest more readily.

 

Did you grow up in a home where the focus was on the good, your virtues or on your faults? What was emphasised? What is part of your relationship blueprint? What is easier for you, to affirm virtues or to criticise faults?

 

 

2) Listening, Forgiveness, Never cause grief to others

 

“It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.” Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 – 1894)

 

This sign of love stands for the attitude to seek to understand the other. It comes from recognizing that the other is different from me and from a genuine interest to want to get to know him/her. “Seek first to understand, then to be understood” is what Stephen Covey calls the 5th of the “7 habits of highly effective people”, a principle of empathic communication. It points to the importance of empathic listening, which is “listening with the intent to understand” (Covey, p.240).

 

More commonly, people “listen with the intent to reply. They’re either speaking or preparing to speak” (ibid., p.239).

 

Listening allows for dialogue to happen. Sometimes, people only appear to dialogue, when in actual fact they get involved in what Martin Buber calls “dialogic disguised monologue”. This is based on the difficulty to simply be with another person for their sake, to make space for their world, their reality. More often we seem to have the urge to bring forth our thoughts and ideas before it is appropriate. Sometimes, verbal exchanges in groups can become competitive and hectic. It seems that I have to fight for my space if I want to get a word in.

 

Sometimes people debate and try to convince each other. Yet, this is an unnecessary attempt. Unless someone asks for advice, it often serves more the one who gives it than the one receiving it.

 

Tom Price points out that everybody is right according to their frame of reference. It is pointless to argue someone’s point of view, to try to convince them to change their mind. If someone tries to talk me into something, I notice that all it does is to increase my resistance. It is where communication can become violent (Marshall Rosenberg). All we really can do is to say, “this differs from my frame of reference” and understand that they have a right to their position. And it is as valid as mine.

 

When we feel very dogmatic, are rigidly fixed and want to convince others of our position, it usually comes from a place of insecurity. We then need others to join us, so we feel more secure. This is the case with anyone who holds a dogmatic point of view. The forcefulness of an opinion is then not a position of strength, it only disguises insecurity.

 

The spiritual law of “independent investigation” of truth honours everyone’s individuality. It invites and fosters maturity and the freedom of choice. I am who I am because of my past experience. Your life experience is different to mine. You may have grown up in a different culture, with different parents, a different gender. All our past experiences provide the ground for our position, the way we view the world.

 

Empathic listening is a way to create an inner space for another, to put ourselves in others’ shoes. We learn to look at the world from their perspective. We learn that in diversity, two realities can stand next to one another. I don’t have to give up my perspective, nor do I have to try to coerce or convince someone else to give up theirs.

 

Virginia Satir puts it this way, “whatever a person does, thinks or says, makes sense in the context of their life”. Our view of the world is shaped of our unique life story. If someone doesn’t make sense to me, I simply do not know enough about this person. There is no need to prejudge. As an expression of love, we listen with the intention to get to know the other better.

 

This form of listening that constitutes a sign of love, is not easy to do. It requires to give up my narcissistic sense of self-importance and the habit to relate everything to me. Listening with the intention to understand gives a warm feeling of being loved.

 

Do you know the difference yourself? Do you remember situations where you felt truly listened to? Did you grow up in a family where this was practised?

 

Forgiveness is overlooking mistakes and letting go of resentments. Forgiveness frees us from the needless pain of reliving a hurt over and over again. Forgiveness doesn’t make a wrong choice right; it brings generosity of spirit to release it. Forgiveness can heal even the most grievous offense. It brings a blessed opportunity for a clean start.” (Virtue Reflection Cards)

 

Tom Price calls this the hardest to do of the twelve signs. He quotes Martin Luther King as saying “He who is devoid of forgiveness is devoid of the power of love.” Obviously, forgiveness is a central sign of love.

 

Forgiveness requires to let go of an old hurt. Often, we find it difficult to let go, just in case it might happen again. We use our non-forgiveness as a kind of protection. This is a way to justify our closing off to someone, our keeping alert and expecting a repeat of the same painful experience. We build a fortress with strong walls around us to keep out the enemy, oblivious of the fact that the enemy that could attack us is already inside.

 

It borders on cruelty when we are merciless towards someone who has hurt us. Bert Hellinger points out that there needs to be a place for making amends, for reparation and restorative justice. Otherwise, the one who had been hurt initially becomes the guilty one.

 

What we often don’t see is that it actually hurts us even more. A painful experience becomes frozen in time. It is like time has stopped and we are forced to relive the same painful moment over and over again. There is no way out, unless we soften in forgiveness.

 

Forgiveness is an inner correction that lightens the heart. It is for our peace of mind first. Being at peace, we will now have peace to give to others, and this is the most permanent and valuable gift we can possibly give.” (Gerald Jampolsky)

 

Our reluctance to forgive is also an indication of our own attachment. Our pride has been hurt or we are stuck in the attempt to hurt back, to punish the one who apparently has done us wrong. Yet, without knowing it, we end up punishing ourselves.

 

Sometimes, we don’t forgive ourselves. Then we are both perpetrator and victim. “Self-forgiveness moves us forward, ready to do things differently, with compassion for ourselves and faith that we can change. Forgiveness opens the door of hope.” (Virtue Reflection Cards)

 

There are sad stories of families and countries being in feud with each other for generations and generations. The grief continues. Cruel actions are justified and perpetuate and reinforced so that it ultimately ends in war.

 

In the end, all we need is to accept Divine forgiveness. It “transforms our hopeless guilt into resolve” (Virtue Reflection Cards). There are many prayers that ask to invoke forgiveness:

 

“I beg Thy forgiveness, O my God, and implore pardon after the manner Thou wishest Thy servants to direct themselves to Thee. I beg of Thee to wash away our sins as befitteth Thy Lordship, and to forgive me, my parents, and those who in Thy estimation have entered the abode of Thy love in a manner which is worthy of Thy transcendent sovereignty and well beseemeth the glory of Thy celestial power.

O my God! Thou hast inspired my soul to offer its supplication to Thee, and but for Thee, I would not call upon Thee. Lauded and glorified art Thou; I yield Thee praise inasmuch as Thou didst reveal Thyself unto me, and I beg Thee to forgive me, since I have fallen short in my duty to know Thee and have failed to walk in the path of Thy love.” The Bab (Compilations, Baha’i Prayers, p. 62)

 

Did you grow up in an atmosphere of forgiveness in your family of origin, or did you inherit old family feuds? Is it easy for you to forgive? Forgiveness has always to do with giving, as the word says. Are you open to give or have you closed your heart to some people? Do you engage in the flow of giving and receiving easily?

 

Do you see yourself as a victim of circumstances? Or do you take some responsibility for your triggers? If someone hurts you, you can recognise this as a trigger of a sensitive spot and consider that they might not have had the intention to hurt you.

 

Never cause grief, this means never cause another person’s unhappiness or grief. In the same way, as you don’t want to be hurt by others, don’t deliberately subject them to that either. Do your best to be a blessing for your fellow humans and not a curse.

 

If someone gets triggered by your action, there is little you can do, but to feel sorry for the impact that you had on them. Show them your care by hearing their perspective, instead of self-righteously justifying yourself. Even if it was not your intention in the first place to hurt them, it is a loving gesture to feel empathy for their pain.

 

One way that many people get hurt is by criticism. It is best to focus on praising the good deeds of others and to refrain from criticism. Tom Price is very adamant that “constructive criticism doesn’t exist”. Criticism always hurts. If you mention someone’s fault or shortcoming to them, it always hurts, since the focus is on the negative.

 

I remember Barry Brailsford sharing his process of writing the book “Song of Waitaha”. The elders had shared their orally transmitted wisdom and he compiled it all, sorted it and then presented his product. They never criticised him. They always focused on what he had done well. He felt himself that he was not quite there, and kept rewriting his drafts. When he finally arrived at the final version, they just sat in silence and he saw their tears in their eyes, as they saw the result. He then knew that he had completed his task.

 

Also to give advise is not helpful. It is a way to take a superior position towards someone else. Only advise someone if they specifically ask for it. And even then, it is more skilful to let them find the answers themselves by providing helpful questions.

 

What, according to Price, we should definitely erase from our vocabulary is the phrase: “I told you so”. This would again be a condescending behaviour of showing off how smart you were and not an expression of love. Even if you had, it is more uplifting to celebrate their insights with them.

 

Be mindful that “every word that flows out of your mouth can either be honey or poison” (Tom Price).

 

Have you experienced this sign of love in your upbringing? Did you experience the warmth of the focus being on you and your well-being?

 

 

C) Unconditional, Joyful radiance, Service, Receiving love

Unconditional is the selfless love of a mother to her child, as it was described by Erich Fromm (The Art of Loving). It is a selfless love, one that gives and doesn’t want something back in return.

 

Tom Price contrasts this with “the love of a butcher for the lamb”. Here the love is not real. The lamb is fed because the butcher wants to have a good return when he kills it.

 

The same kind of “love” exists in circles, where people fall easily in and out of love. I love you as long as you meet my needs or give me something that is useful for me. As soon as this stops, I might discard you like an object that had lost its value. It is a common attitude of replacing people in our life when they no longer serve us.

 

Unconditional love is more concerned with the other. It is focused on their essence. I love you because of you being you. I love you for your sake, not for mine. Of course, in intimate relationships, I end up benefitting too from a loving relationship. The point here is the intention.

 

John Welwood contrasts the “modern marriage” where partners are there to meet each other’s needs with “conscious relationships”. Here the goal is personal development. Difficuties are then viewed as necessary opportunities for personal growth. Rather than judging my partner, I can explore the question: what is asked of me in this situation? How can I best develop myself?

 

Have you experienced unconditional love? Do you know the difference between conditional and unconditional love from experience? How do these two feel to you?

 

Joyful radiance

 

“Joyfulness is an inner wellspring of peace and happiness. … It is a deep sense of wellbeing that fills us with delight and hope.” (Virtue Reflection Cards)

 

To experience joy does not depend on external things. It is an inner quality. I can feel joyful in all circumstances. Nobody can take this away. It is my choice.

 

What makes the joy you feel so valuable to others is your ability and willingness to be radiant with it. The sun benefits the earth through its radiance. Or as the saying goes, “shared joy is double the joy (and shared pain is half the pain)”.

 

“Cheerfulness is seeing the bright side and looking for the good in whatever happens. It is maintaining a positive attitude of optimism and confidence.” (Virtue Reflection Cards)

 

To feel joy and cheerful within lightens not only your life. “A cheerful smile can light up everyone’s day.” (ibid.) This is a skill that I can learn. I can become what Tom Price calls a “smiler”. He suggests to notice people in your life who tend to do this naturally and learn to imitate them. In the end, I can express my smiles freely to everyone who I meet.

 

Did you grow up amongst smilers? Do you know people in your life who are good at radiating their joyfulness? How easy is it for you to be joyful and to express it freely?

 

Service is to be helpful to other people. You pay attention to whatever they need and you help them. You do what you know brings others happiness. For example, you visit someone who is sick, you pray for them. Service feel good, as it gives you a sense of being helpful and making a positive difference in someone’s life.

 

The more you are concerned with other people’s happiness, the more you end up being happy yourself. In service, I learn to be empathic, to feel the joy in others. I take joy in serving others. Abdu’l-Baha points alludes that service to mankind is a way to serve God.

 

Service is at the same time beneficial to the one who serves. Mahatma Gandhi says: “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

 

Acts of service has been described as one of the “Five Love Languages” (Gary D. Chapman). People feel loved when they experience an act of service.

“With acts of service, it is important that you take on chores that are important to your partner. It is crucial that these acts of service are done willingly and lovingly, not with any resentment. You do them out of love for your partner, you do them, because they matter to them.”

(https://waiorahealingwaters.com/2012/12/03/some-thoughts-on-love-languages/)

 

Have you experienced service as you grew up? Who served whom?

 

While the former signs of love are mainly to do with giving love, the last one is devoted to receiving love.

 

The ability to receive love is an important inclusion in the twelve signs of love. Even though, to love mainly means to focus on the other for their sake and not your own, you also need to include yourself in the circle of love. To be self-loving does not mean to be selfish. You include yourself as one of God’s creatures in the knowledge that “love is a chain”. Similar to electricity, it flows in a circuit. It can only flow out as it flows in.

 

To the degree that you let the love of God into you, it can come out. As you receive love, you can give love.

 

It is a great joy to be able to love another person and to be received by them in your love of them. The willingness to receive love yourself, gives others this opportunity to feel good to feel their own potency as a loving person.

 

Receiving love also means to develop self-love. The more you love yourself and take good self-care, the less you become a burden to others. You create fullness for yourself that makes it possible to be there for others without feeling depleted by it.

 

Narcissitic self-preoccupation that is so prevelant in our times, comes from a place of lack. It is misleading, because people who tend to behave in this way, appear confident and to possess high self-esteem, when in actual fact they are quite insecure. The self-centredness comes from a place of weakness rather than strength and does not make space for empathy of others. It can be driven by a sense of grandiosity to compensate for the deep insecurity that is felt. In its extremes it has been defined as a personality disorder. What is lacking is humility and empathy for others.

 

The person who loves themselves, on the other hand, loves the self, as a gift from God. There is the metaphor of filling your own cup, so that it overflows. Then others can benefit from what flows out of your cup without you having to worry that you exhaust yourself in the process. You live a life of love, and you include yourself in this stream of love.

 

On a practical level, self-love is expressed as a loving inner dialogue. You say positive things to yourself, loving and nurturing.

 

As love is life, it is God given. You know that you can let love flow, as you are sure that you too are in the stream of receiving love and life. As you recognize that you have been created in the image of God, you see the attributes of God in yourself and in others. Love of self and others goes hand in hand.

 

All the 12 signs of love are the qualities that God gave us humans. These are part of your true nature. All you need to do is practise them.

 

“Love Me, that I may love thee. If thou lovest Me not, My love can in no wise reach thee.” (Baha’u’llah, The Arabic Hidden Words)

 

 

Afterthoughts

 

When you read through the different signs of love, are you expressing all of them? What are the ones that are most familiar to you? and which one would you like to develop further?

 

You can make a difference in the world in a very practical way by being a loving person. The more we can learn to live in love, the more we can contribute to unity in the world, to life, to love.

 

“The more love is expressed among mankind and the stronger the power of unity, the greater will be this reflection and revelation, for the greatest bestowal of God is love. Love is the source of all the bestowals of God. Until love takes possession of the heart no other divine bounty can be revealed in it.” (Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i World Faith – Abdu’l-Baha Section, p. 218)

 

 

 

See:

Tom Price;

The twelves signs of love, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YMnJmSQxQxw , recorded 25/10/2013

 

Virtue Reflection Cards, Popov, Linda & Dan, http://www.virtuesproject.com

 

Byron Katie (2002); Loving what is – Four questions that can change your life

 

Covey, Stephen R. (1989); The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People; New York: Simon and Schuster

 

Rosenberg, Marshall (1999); Nonviolent Communication – A Language of Compassion; Encinitas, California, USA: PuddleDancer Press.

Initially presented at the North Island Summer School on 29 December 2013

Uncategorized

Personal Empowerment

Personal empowerment has always been dear to me. Growing up in post-war Germany, I was determined not to be a victim but a creator of my reality. I was not going to be a sheep following blindly a leader. From young on, I was determined to not give away my power to anyone, to rather be empowered.

 

On the other hand, having ultimate power had no appeal to me either. I felt that a society functioned best when everyone was in their own way empowered. That’s where connection happens, that’s where people meet in their strength.

 

Only the weak are cruel. Gentleness can only be expected from the strong.”1 Cruelty is only possible among people who are not in charge, who don’t take personal responsibility, who have low self-esteem and gain power through identifying with a powerful leader2. They combine absolute obedience towards their leader with hostility towards their subordinates, like the guards at concentration camps.

 

Kindness, care and consideration, on the other hand, are qualities of the strong, of the personally empowered. My main intention in my work was to help create a better world with the empowerment of the individual. This gave me a sense of purpose. It has always been my wish to support a worthwhile course.

 

No surprise that Gestalt Therapy caught my interest. Rather than being a victim of a condition, I was encouraged to see myself as the co-creator of it. Nouns were replaced by verbs to highlight the process rather than a static situation. For example, rather than say “I have a depression”, it was reworded to “I depress myself” and then examined how did I do that. The path to empowerment, I was taught, is through awareness.

 

The way I have been conditioned as a child rules my life as long as I am not aware of what I do and how I do it. I might feel free and yet be the victim of unconscious habitual patterns. I have no choice but to do what I habitually do, as long as it is outside of my awareness. The way of empowerment is through awareness, followed by acceptance of a given situation, acknowledgement of my truth, and trusting in an organismic process of change, trusting the process of growth.

 

In this, change, more or less, happens by itself3, as I allow myself to be where I am and with what I am. All life is process, and change is an integral part of that. If I want change, I cannot force it. I can only allow it to happen, in a natural way, as an organismic process. I can set an intention. I can choose a direction and visualize a desired outcome. But I cannot force the outcome. “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.”4 I only create an equal counter-force if I push or pressure something.

 

“You have powers you never dreamed of. You can do things you never thought you could do. There are no limitations in what you can do except the limitations of your own mind.”5

 

Much has been said and written about the power of the mind, about manifestation and the “law of attraction”6. With the power of the mind, we can attract what we want in life. Does it mean that we bring about what we want to manifest? Are we so powerful? Or is it due to our selective perception that we pay more attention to what we want? So it stands out and is reinforced. “What we see depends mainly on what we look for.”7

 

It sounds arrogant to me to say, “I create my own reality.” There are conditions that seem to be outside of my control. In a way everybody contributes to their experience by their thinking. There are different realities for different people. Everybody lives in their own world, that to a large degree is determined by their space of mind, by what they look for. I prefer to say, we co-create our own reality. Everybody is a co-creator.

 

Let’s use the example of a theatre. Everybody has their own play. We are the main actor as well as the director in our own play, where others have more or less dominant roles. In another person’s play, I have a more or less important role to play. In some way, we all are in each other’s play in different roles. There is a web of different realities that link and overlap. In a certain culture, they are similar, yet they are all distinctively different. Another person’s reality is outside of my direct control and it is none of my business.8 I am only responsible for my own reality that I co-create. “We’re all co-creating this world and our lives within it through our emotions, thoughts, and actions.”9

 

What I do for another ultimately helps me, as others benefit from my own positivity. We are all connected and impact on each other, as the plays of our lives touch each other, intertwine and resonate.

 

“Synchronicity and the idea of attraction have been given a lot of attention in recent years. The thought of things falling into place effortlessly because we’re attracting them is alluring, but I prefer to think in terms of allowing, rather than attracting” and “we’re one with the universe, our purpose is to be our magnificent selves, and the external world is only a reflection of what’s inside us.”10

 

As I am with other people, their reality contributes to mine. We live in a co-created field. It has been shown experimentally that we can strengthen or weaken each other just by the thoughts we send out to one another. A person was seated on a chair and a group of people behind him sent him alternatively positive or negative thoughts. The person on the chair had strong or weak responses when muscle tested according to the quality of thoughts being sent to him.11

 

“Peace is giving up the love of power for the power of love.”12

 

In my reality, I can choose my focus. I can choose love over fear, abundance over scarcity, life over death. I can focus on what is there rather than what I think should be there. I can be in the reality of the “now” and experience its power.13 And I can develop the habit of “Loving what is.”14

 

A bad habit is to focus on what we don’t want. It is not if we want it or not that matters but the fact that we give it attention. Whatever we put into our mind, we give attention to. So I might as well focus on what I want rather than what not.

 

What do you do if you are told that a certain condition is in your genes? You have inherited a condition, and the likelihood of manifesting it is apparently quite significant. Is this not the ultimate powerless situation?

 

When people are given the prediction to die within a certain time-frame – “I give you 2 months to live” – they usually die within that time, not because the doctor was right but because they believe so.15

 

What I find absolutely fascinating is the fact that new science now shows that in fact we are not dependent on our genes for certain conditions to manifest. We rather form our genes with our thinking.16

 

Different to what had been generally assumed by a materialistically reduced science17, it is not the genes that determine our fate. In actual fact, it is the environment that influences the gene and the DNA. We create our environment with our thinking and beliefs.

 

This is good news to me, that I can be empowered. I can be in charge of my life to the degree that I accept responsibility for my thoughts, for my decisions, for my actions.

 

I have an influence on my environment that determines my life. Yet, there are other factors that happen outside of my control. There are other people, environmental conditions, unexpected occurences, that people refer to as God’s will.

 

With an attitude of humility, I can maintain my power by accepting things that are outside of my control. Instead of running against the wall, I can look for the door. Byron Katie distinguishes between “my business, your business and God’s business”. Stephen Covey calls it “the circle of influence”18.

 

In my business, in my area of influence, I am in charge. Yet often, there are habitual patterns that get in my way. This is where it becomes useful to bring consciousness in and work with the subconscious mind that creates our habits.

 

Only 3-5 % of our brain activity is used for conscious thinking. The rest is subconscious. It determines our bodily functioning as well as our learned habits and patterns. We cannot impact on these with our conscious mind. We need to find access to our subconscious in another way.

 

How can I reach my subconscious mind? A method that is widely used in Energy Psychology is muscle testing that was developed in applied kinesiology. Other healers use pendulums or divining rods / dowsing.

 

The goal is to create cohesion between conscious thought and the subconscious. The subconscious has been compared to an engine room of a ship. It is the location of power that creates the movement. The consciousness is the captain who steers the ship and gives commands to the engine room.

 

It is vital to be aware of what you think. What is it that you give energy to? Is it love, your own magnificence or fear and critical, self-depreciating thoughts?

 

Affirmations and positive messages only work to the degree that they are supported by the subconscious. Processes like Psych-K, the Emotion Code, EFT or Hypnotherapy seem to access the subconscious mind. The task is to access this “engine room” of our mind, this power centre, to respect it and invite a positive cooperation between the conscious and subconscious, between head, heart and gut, between thinking and feeling, between the inner child and the adult.

 

I can be powerful to the degree that I achieve unity between the different parts of me, that I create personal unity in my own little world and therefore embrace the connectedness with all life, with all beings, with all around me. As I do this, I play my part in creating unity in diversity.

1Leo Buscaglia

2See “Authoritarian Personality” as defined by Theodor Adorno

3Beisser, Paradoxical Theory of Change

5Darwin P. Kingsley

6Abraham, as channelled by Hicks

7John Lubbock

8Byron Katie on “whose business am I in?”

9Anita Moorjani, Dyng to be me, p. 141

10Ibid., p. 159

11See Bradley Nelson

12Peacefulness, Virtues Reflection Cards, The Virtues Project

13Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

14Byron Katie

15See also Lissa Rankin, Is there scientific proof that we can heal ourselves?

16Bruce Lipton, The biology of perception

17Rupert Sheldrake, The Science Delusion, TED talk

18Stephen Covey, The 7 habits of highly effective people

Rudolf Jarosewitsch

Uncategorized

About Energy Psychology

In the following, I want to share the context in which I see Energy Psychology operating. It has its roots in approaches that combined body and mind in a wholistic manner and can be traced back as far as Wilhelm Reich, a second generation psychoanalyst and a student of Freud, and “one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry”1. He included the physical body in this form of mind-focused “talking therapy”, was a pioneer in every way and influenced many approaches of body-centred therapies, like Bioenergetics (Alexander Lowen), and also disciplines like Gestalt Therapy.

Wilhelm Reich pointed out that a healthy body’s functioning can be described as a flowing movement, like the sine curve. Any blocked emotions correlate with tensed muscles in the body that restrict the natural flow and limit its possibilities. For example, take the hand that can move freely between open and clenched. If you now put some tension into the hand and half close it, the range of options is greatly reduced.

There are approximately 640 skeletal muscles in the human body that offer a wide range of holding tension. A great number of combinations is possible that make up very unique individual patterns, described by Reich as “muscular armour” and determined the “character structure”.

In the same way, as Wilhelm Reich’s approach was revolutionary at its time and anything but conventional, Energy Psychology is the new name for a stream of on-the-edge way of therapy. It works directly with the energy pathways and addresses the energy centres. Therefore it not only has an impact on the emotional and mental health but also on the physical health. It has been called “modern psychotherapy’s enfant terrible” and been “alternatively praised and ridiculed, extolled and rebuked”2.

“From the point of view of Energy Psychology, painful physical, emotional and spiritual symptoms are the result of a disruption in the energy system. When the disruption is corrected, symptoms will be replaced by healthy functioning.”3 The focus is on the energy system, where an unhindered flow represents health, and illness is nothing but blocks in this flow. In Gestalt Therapy, we talk about the self-regulating system of a healthy body. In the same way, as darkness is no entity in itself but merely the absence of light, here the focus is on health and if there are blocks, illness are seen as a temporary blockage of a natural flow.

Methods of Energy Psychology use the “natural resources of the body’s energetic system”4

A question that has always interested me is “what brings about healing/change in counselling and psychotherapy?” Sigmund Freud, the founding father of psychoanalysis, explored the unconscious mind by letting his patients lie on the famous couch and free associate. He let them talk about their difficulties to affect behavioural change. He also attended to their dreams to deduct information that would give a clue to understand their current problems. Occasionally, a cathartic release would happen, when patient were overcome with emotions and released those. This lead to actual change, while a mere cognitive understanding and analysis of their childhood gave the patients a good understanding of why they behaved the way they did, yet it did little to change a certain behaviour.

We now know that 95% of the brain’s activity is involved with subconscious processes, and only 5% are conscious. Habitual patterns, phobias, anxieties and neurotic behaviours operate from the subconscious mind and cannot be controlled by the consciousness.

Gestalt Therapy seemed to have found a short-cut to accessing emotions more directly by attending to the obvious in the here-and-now. As Fritz Perls showed in his famous theatrical conducted workshops, people changed within relatively short time-frames by experiencing alternatives to the familiar. He included practical experiments, a learning by doing. This provided a more direct access to relevant patterns and made it unnecessary to analyse past events. I remember when I explored psychoanalysis, that I could explain why I would not do the dishes in our living community, but it did not change my behaviour.

Whilst, when I first experienced Gestalt Therapy, I was very easily in tears without necessarily knowing why. Gestalt Therapy operates in the here-and-now, assuming that all relevant information is available as we allow it to rise into awareness. It assumes an organismic self-regulating process, stresses the importance of the relational experience between therapist and client and embraces a concept of the field that contains vital information and forms a wider context.

Energy Psychology, now goes an even more direct path by accessing the meridians and energy lines. It “is the blueprint, the infrastructure, the invisible foundation for the health of your body”5. It refers to the energy pathways and energy centres that affect cells, organs, moods, and thoughts. “Energy Psychology utilises techniques from acupressure, yoga, qi gong, and energy medicine that teach people simple steps for initiating changes in their inner lives.”6

It caught my attention when I heard that methods of EP work without necessarily having to relive past traumas. It seems a most painless process. This is in particular of interest for clients who don’t want to reveal private information or show their vulnerability.

I remember how uncomfortable it felt when I had to revisit past traumas in working with ACC clients on their sexual abuse, and questioning them in order to be able to fill in the application sheet. It felt like exposing them to a secondary traumatisation. Now here is a way that we even might not need to know the content of the trauma, difficulty or problem. It brings in a different component to the familiar “talking therapies”, that can also be disappointing when clients seem stuck in a rut and repeat the same old story over and over again, and no matter how much they share, it seems not to make any significant difference to their condition.

A caution is in order now. It sounds seductively simple and seems to be suitable to be practiced by anybody, which of course is not true. To work sensitively with a client requires a thorough training as it is provided by counselling or psychotherapy programmes. To have a simple method that promises to be able to heal everything in a painless manner is like the promise of a wonder drug. It simply doesn’t work in a simple “how-to-do” manner. Real life is mostly a bit more complicated than simple schematic examples.

I see these methods more as an additional training for health professionals than a stand-alone method. It might be useful for counsellors to keep an open mind and to embrace insights that are backed up by modern science, a science that goes beyond a mechanistic, materialistic out-dated understanding. Rupert Sheldrake calls it the “Science delusion”, the belief that science already understands the nature of reality, that the fundamental questions are answered, leaving only the details to be filled in.”7 He refers to 10 common assumptions in science that don’t stand up in light of new findings: “The ‘scientific worldview’ has become a belief system. All reality is material or physical. The world is a machine, made up of dead matter. Nature is purposeless. Consciousness is nothing but the physical activity of the brain. Free will is an illusion. God exists only as an idea in human minds, imprisoned within our skulls.”

I believe, we can best be of service to our clients as we stay open to new insights and learning. Take the dominance of the heart over the brain. Different to common assumptions it is not the brain that is in charge and gives commands to the heart to follow, but the heart gives more commands to the brain. There is an electromagnetic energy field around the heart that by far exceeds the confines of the physical body.8

This has big implications. Imagine, we can trust our hearts more and bring our rational thinking in line to serve our feeling, intuiting senses. Maybe we can then bring more compassion into the world, more connecting and less analyzing and labelling. Focus on our hearts, there might be more love, less fear, and less need to control the situation.

How would this confirm your work, or how would that challenge what you currently do?

Rudolf Jarosewitsch, June 2013

2John Freedom, Energy Psychology: The Future of Therapy? Http://noetic.org/noetic/issue-thirteen-august/energy-psychology/

4Ibid.

6Ibid.

7Rupert Sheldrake, Science set free

8HeartMath Research Centre: Science of the Heart